mercury

noun

mer·​cu·​ry ˈmər-kyə-rē How to pronounce mercury (audio)
-k(ə-)rē
plural mercuries
1
a
capitalized : a Roman god of commerce, eloquence, travel, cunning, and theft who serves as messenger to the other gods compare hermes
b
often capitalized archaic : a bearer of messages or news or a conductor of travelers
2
[Middle English mercurie, from Medieval Latin mercurius, from Latin, the god]
a
: a silver-white poisonous heavy metallic element that is liquid at ordinary temperatures and is used especially in batteries, in dental amalgam, and in scientific instruments

called also quicksilver

see Chemical Elements Table
b
: the column of mercury in a thermometer or barometer
also : temperature
the mercury rose above 70 degrees
3
capitalized : the planet nearest the sun see Planets Table

Examples of mercury in a Sentence

In the summer, the mercury can reach over 100 degrees Fahrenheit.
Recent Examples on the Web Snowmaking can occur when the mercury drops to about 28 degrees F (though the process is optimal at around 22 degrees or less); a threshold Mother Nature sometimes crosses for only brief periods. Popular Science, 21 Feb. 2024 The hottest February day around here pushed the mercury up to 96 degrees — and that was in 1904. David Montesino, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 16 Feb. 2024 The mercury topped out at 59 degrees F in Madison and 59 in Milwaukee. Evan Bush, NBC News, 9 Feb. 2024 The high temperatures themselves might adversely affect the growth of some phytoplankton species, but might actually benefit others that thrive as the mercury climbs. Matt Simon, WIRED, 8 Feb. 2024 The mercury hit 47 degrees Fahrenheit in the area on Wednesday. Todd Richmond, Detroit Free Press, 2 Feb. 2024 Multiple studies show no link between autism and the mercury in vaccines, said Cherie Duvall-Jones, an FDA spokesperson. Nate Trela, USA TODAY, 26 Jan. 2024 Colloidal quantum dots tuned to SWIR show promise for such sensors since they can be easily integrated into CMOS, but their mass market use has been hampered by the fact that most contain toxic heavy metals like lead or mercury. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 18 Jan. 2024 But in the past year, there have been only three days in which the mercury fell further. Martin Weil, Washington Post, 6 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'mercury.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Latin Mercurius, Roman god and the planet

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of mercury was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near mercury

Cite this Entry

“Mercury.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/mercury. Accessed 29 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

mercury

noun
mer·​cu·​ry ˈmər-kyə-rē How to pronounce mercury (audio)
-k(ə-)rē
1
a
: a heavy silver-white poisonous metallic element that is liquid at ordinary temperatures

called also quicksilver

see element
b
: the column of mercury in a thermometer or barometer
2
capitalized : the planet nearest the sun see planet

Medical Definition

mercury

noun
mer·​cu·​ry ˈmər-kyə-rē, -k(ə-)rē How to pronounce mercury (audio)
plural mercuries
1
: a heavy silver-white poisonous metallic element that is liquid at ordinary temperatures and used especially in scientific instruments
symbol Hg

called also quicksilver

see Chemical Elements Table
2
: a pharmaceutical preparation containing mercury or a compound of it

More from Merriam-Webster on mercury

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