noun, often attributive
io·​dine | \ ˈī-ə-ˌdīn How to pronounce iodine (audio) , -dᵊn, -ˌdēn\

Definition of iodine

1 : a nonmetallic halogen element obtained usually as heavy shining blackish-gray crystals and used especially in medicine, photography, and analysis — see Chemical Elements Table
2 : a tincture of iodine used especially as a topical antiseptic

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Did You Know?

Iodine is a nonmetallic chemical element and the heaviest nonradioactive halogen. It is a very nearly black crystalline solid that can turn to a deep violet, irritating vapor. In nature it is never found uncombined, and occurs mostly in brines and seaweeds. Dietary iodine is essential for thyroid gland function, so table salt usually has potassium iodide added to prevent iodine deficiency. Elemental iodine is used in medicine, in synthesizing some organic chemicals, in manufacturing dyes, in analytical chemistry, and in photography. The radioactive isotope I-131, with an eight-day half-life, is very useful in medicine and other applications.

Examples of iodine in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Some of that iodine—about an eyelash worth—resides in the bodies of each of us, a little leftover reminder that one of the biggest explosions in the universe once happened right next door. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "Two Neutron Stars Exploded in Our Cosmic Backyard Billions of Years Ago," 3 May 2019 There is salt, of course, and a pleasantly clingy iodine flavor. Tamar Adler, Vogue, "Is Seaweed the Perfect Food?," 15 Feb. 2019 In the film, bullet entry wounds are treated with a swab of iodine. Chuck Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "What You Need To Know Before Watching "They Shall Not Grow Old"," 28 Dec. 2018 Nuclear explosions release radioactive iodine into the atmosphere, which are absorbed by the thyroid gland. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Sheep Glands Point to Nukes as Source of Mysterious 1979 Explosion," 12 Sep. 2018 Sanitation was recognized as a vital concern, and iodine and other means of sterilization were common. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Five Innovations to Emerge From the First World War," 11 Nov. 2018 The drug, which has a shelf life of up to seven years, protects against absorption of radioactive iodine into the thyroid. NBC News, "Anti-radiation drug sales skyrocket after ‘nuclear button’ tweet," 11 Jan. 2018 The thyroid gland needs iodine to produce hormones that regulate the body’s energy and metabolism. Erika Butler, The Aegis, "Harford residents near Peach Bottom atomic plant need potassium iodide on hand," 23 May 2018 For example, cesium and iodine are volatile, and these are far more likely to be released into the atmosphere than elements like plutonium. Andrew Karam, Popular Mechanics, "Five Years Later, Cutting Through the Fukushima Myths," 11 Mar. 2016

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

1814, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for iodine

French iode "iodine" (borrowed from Greek ioeidḗs "violet-colored," from íon "the color violet"—going back to *wion, akin to the source of Latin viola "the violet flower"— + -o-eidēs -oid entry 2) + -ine entry 2 (after chlorine, fluorine) — more at violet

Note: The French word iode was apparently introduced by the chemists Bernard Courtois (1777-1838) and Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac (1778-1850); cf. B. Courtois, "Découverte d'une substance nouvelle dans le Vareck," Annales de chimie, tome 88 (1813), p. 305: "La substance nouvelle, que depuis on a nommé iode à cause de la belle couleur violette de sa vapeur, a bien tout l'aspect d'un métal." ("The new substance, which since has been named iode because of the beautiful violet color of its vapor, has all the appearance of a metal.") Note that a borrowing from Greek ioeidḗs should properly have yielded ioïde in French rather than iode; the direct source of the latter may have been iṓdēs "rust-colored," a derivative of íos "rust, verdigris," taken erroneously to be a derivative of íon "the color violet."

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Statistics for iodine

Last Updated

13 May 2019

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Time Traveler for iodine

The first known use of iodine was in 1814

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More Definitions for iodine



English Language Learners Definition of iodine

: a chemical element that is used especially in medicine and photography


io·​dine | \ ˈī-ə-ˌdīn How to pronounce iodine (audio) , -dᵊn\

Kids Definition of iodine

1 : a chemical element found in seawater and seaweeds and used especially in medicine and photography
2 : a solution of iodine in alcohol used to kill germs


noun, often attributive
io·​dine | \ ˈī-ə-ˌdīn How to pronounce iodine (audio) , -əd-ᵊn How to pronounce iodine (audio) , -ə-ˌdēn How to pronounce iodine (audio) \

Medical Definition of iodine

1 : a nonmetallic halogen element obtained usually as heavy shining blackish gray crystals and used especially in medicine (as in antisepsis and in the treatment of goiter and cretinism) and in photography and chemical analysis symbol I — see Chemical Elements Table
2 : a tincture of iodine used especially as a topical antiseptic

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More from Merriam-Webster on iodine

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with iodine

Spanish Central: Translation of iodine

Nglish: Translation of iodine for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of iodine for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about iodine

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