he·​li·​um | \ˈhē-lē-əm, ˈhēl-yəm\

Definition of helium 

: a light colorless inert gaseous element found especially in natural gases and used chiefly for inflating airships and balloons, in lamps, in cryogenic research, and as a component of inert atmospheres (as in welding) — see Chemical Elements Table

Examples of helium in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Heliox managed to build a small prototype tunnel in their airplane hangar about the width of a subway car, and was using a mixture of oxygen and helium to propel passengers. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Google's Larry Page Wanted to Build a Gas-Powered Bike Hyperloop," 14 Sep. 2018 But some suppliers, realizing their product was being used for suicide, began mixing in air, making the helium less effective, so nitrogen became the preferred choice. Author: Denise Grady, Jan Hoffman, Anchorage Daily News, "States turn to an unproven method of execution: nitrogen gas," 8 May 2018 These days, blimps (vast rubberized envelopes that get their shape from the gas inside) and Zeppelins (semi-rigid airships with an aluminum and carbon-fiber skeleton) are both lifted by helium. Andrew Van Dam, chicagotribune.com, "The blimp industry is changing, right over our noses," 12 June 2018 In that case, a COPV tasked with injecting helium to maintain fuel tank pressure failed. David Z. Morris, Fortune, "Elon Musk Says Tesla’s Next Roadster Will Feature Actual SpaceX Rocket Thrusters," 10 June 2018 The diagram has already helped researchers learn to distinguish white dwarfs dominated by hydrogen and white dwarfs dominated by helium. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "New Star Map Could Change Everything We Know About the Milky Way," 25 Apr. 2018 Carbon stars, such as red giants, create their namesake element by fusing helium atoms in their cores, eventually pumping the carbon out into space. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Our Galaxy Is Really Greasy and Smells Like Moth Balls," 28 June 2018 Guilbe definitely had some helium as the spring finally warmed up and the Draft approached, putting up a season that put him in contention for the state's Gatorade Player of the Year award. Jeff Sanders, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Day 3 draft tracker: Padres start with college catcher, HS second baseman," 6 June 2018 An investigation of Abrahamson’s computer and phone revealed receipts and emails for weather balloons, helium tanks and rubber bands. Tonya Alanez, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Murder was elaborately staged suicide, police say," 13 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'helium.' 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 helium

1871, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for helium

New Latin, from Greek hēlios

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Statistics for helium

Last Updated

8 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for helium

The first known use of helium was in 1871

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More Definitions for helium



English Language Learners Definition of helium

: a chemical element that is a colorless gas, that is lighter than air, and that is often used to fill balloons


he·​li·​um | \ˈhē-lē-əm \

Kids Definition of helium

: a very light gaseous chemical element that is found in various natural gases, will not burn, and is used in balloons


he·​li·​um | \ˈhē-lē-əm \

Medical Definition of helium 

: a light colorless nonflammable gaseous element found especially in natural gases and used chiefly for inflating airships and balloons, for filling incandescent lamps, and for cryogenic research symbol He — see Chemical Elements Table

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More from Merriam-Webster on helium

Spanish Central: Translation of helium

Nglish: Translation of helium for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of helium for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about helium

Comments on helium

What made you want to look up helium? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make faulty or ineffective

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