elec·​tro·​mag·​ne·​tism | \ i-ˌlek-trō-ˈmag-nə-ˌti-zəm How to pronounce electromagnetism (audio) \

Definition of electromagnetism

1 : magnetism developed by a current of electricity
2a : a fundamental physical force that is responsible for interactions between charged particles which occur because of their charge and for the emission and absorption of photons, that is about a hundredth the strength of the strong force, and that extends over infinite distances but is dominant over atomic and molecular distances

called also electromagnetic force

— compare gravity sense 3a(2), strong force, weak force
b : a branch of physical science that deals with the physical relations between electricity and magnetism

Examples of electromagnetism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Faraday was the first to propose a unification of gravity and electromagnetism. Priyamvada Natarajan, WSJ, "‘The God Equation’ Review: One String Theory to Rule Them All," 9 Apr. 2021 Gravity and electromagnetism, if the graviton or photon are massive, will no longer be infinite-range forces. Ethan Siegel, Forbes, "Ask Ethan: Could Gravitons Solve The Mystery Of Dark Matter?," 9 Apr. 2021 So for 50 years, the Smithsonian Institution Building, also known as the Castle, was full of scientists studying topics such as meteorology, anthropology, natural history, electromagnetism and chemistry. Washington Post, "The Smithsonian got its start thanks to a mysterious gift," 15 Mar. 2021 Typically, levitation techniques make use of electromagnetism; magnetic forces have even been used to levitate frogs. Josh Howgego, Scientific American, "Sound Waves Levitate and Move Objects," 15 July 2013 The world's great scientific theories do it, too — from Darwin's evolution to the theory of electromagnetism to quantum mechanics tying together matter and light. Faye Flam, Star Tribune, "Social media is fertile soil for conspiracy," 2 Feb. 2021 Called Fleming's Left Hand Rule, this fundamental of electromagnetism states that the confluence of a magnetic field and an electric current passing through a fluid will cause the fluid to be propelled in one direction. Abe Dane, Popular Mechanics, "Remembering Jet Ships: The Futuristic 100-Knot Superboat That Never Was," 14 Jan. 2021 Because 1/137 is small, electromagnetism is weak; as a consequence, charged particles form airy atoms whose electrons orbit at a distance and easily hop away, enabling chemical bonds. Quanta Magazine, "Physicists Nail Down the ‘Magic Number’ That Shapes the Universe," 2 Dec. 2020 But as the universe expanded and cooled, this superforce condensed into its familiar parts: gravity, electromagnetism and the strong and weak forces. Quanta Magazine, "Some Physicists See Signs of Cosmic Strings From the Big Bang," 29 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'electromagnetism.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of electromagnetism

1821, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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The first known use of electromagnetism was in 1821

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Last Updated

19 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Electromagnetism.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/electromagnetism. Accessed 9 May. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of electromagnetism

technical : a magnetic field that is produced by a current of electricity


elec·​tro·​mag·​ne·​tism | \ i-ˌlek-trō-ˈmag-nə-ˌtiz-əm How to pronounce electromagnetism (audio) \

Medical Definition of electromagnetism

1 : magnetism developed by a current of electricity
2 : physics dealing with the relations between electricity and magnetism

More from Merriam-Webster on electromagnetism

Nglish: Translation of electromagnetism for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about electromagnetism

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