osmosis

noun

os·​mo·​sis äz-ˈmō-səs How to pronounce osmosis (audio)
äs-
1
: movement of a solvent (such as water) through a semipermeable membrane (as of a living cell) into a solution of higher solute concentration that tends to equalize the concentrations of solute on the two sides of the membrane
2
: a process of absorption or diffusion (see diffusion sense 3a) suggestive of the flow of osmotic action
especially : a usually effortless often unconscious assimilation (see assimilation sense 4)
learned a number of languages by osmosis Roger Kimball

Examples of osmosis in a Sentence

She seems to learn foreign languages by osmosis.
Recent Examples on the Web This type of geographical osmosis is at the core of Knopfler’s work, which has reverence for the past as much as the future. Devon Ivie, Vulture, 10 Apr. 2024 China’s imperial expansion has historically been achieved by osmosis rather than conquest, or by the conversionto Chinese culture of conquerors who then added their own territoriesto the Chinese domain. Henry A. Kissinger, Foreign Affairs, 1 Mar. 2012 My understanding of the series up to this point has purely come through osmosis as someone who’s been working in pop culture for almost a decade. Angelique Jackson, Variety, 11 May 2024 Loved Eminem walking out with Roger Goodell to make the commissioner seem (slightly) cooler by osmosis. Greg Cote, Miami Herald, 26 Apr. 2024 And more time is spent training and equipping managers at fully remote firms than at in-office firms, likely because workers are better able to learn by osmosis. Jane Thier, Fortune, 16 Apr. 2024 The Ghanaian American singer, raised between Atlanta, New Jersey, and Accra, has a unique grasp of many cultures, allowing for a music of osmosis that’s fluid enough to blend punk and baile funk and everything in between. The New Yorker, 15 Mar. 2024 As for the ability to learn through osmosis and make connections with higher-ups, the office still can’t be beat, Sutherland-Wong admits. Jane Thier, Fortune, 29 Feb. 2024 However, the amount of PET was dwarfed by the amount of polyamides, a form of nylon used in the reverse osmosis filters that water is run through before bottling. Corinne Purtill, Los Angeles Times, 8 Jan. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'osmosis.' 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

earlier osmose in same sense + -osis, after endosmosis, exosmosis; osmose generalized from endosmose "passage through a membrane from a region of lower to a region of higher concentration" and exosmose "passage through a membrane from a region of higher to a region of lower concentration" (later endosmosis, exosmosis), both borrowed from French, from end- end-, ex- ex- entry 2 + -osmose, from Greek ōsmós "push, thrust" (from ōthéō, ōtheîn "to push, thrust" + -(s)mos, resultative noun suffix) + French -ose -osis; ōthéō, ōtheîn probably going back to Indo-European *h2u̯odhh1-, iterative derivative of *h2u̯edhh1- "thrust," whence also Sanskrit ávadhīt "(s/he) has struck, has slain"

Note: The terms endosmose and exosmose were introduced by the French physician and physiologist Henri Dutrochet (1776-1847) in L'agent immédiat du mouvement vital dévoilé dans sa nature et dans son mode d'action, chez les végétaux et chez les animaux (Paris, 1826), p. 126: "Ainsi, lorsque c'est le plus dense des deux fluides qui est dans la cavité, l'eau y est introduite par l'action que j'ai nommée endosmose; lorsqu'au contraire c'est le plus dense des deux fluides qui est hors de la cavité, le fluide le moins dense, qui est au dedans, est poussé au dehors par une action inverse que je nommerai exosmose.[footnote] (1) Mot dérivé de ἐξ, dehors, et de ωσμος, impulsion." ("Thus when the denser of the two fluids is inside the cavity, the water is drawn in by the action that I term endosmose; when on the contrary the denser of the two fluids is outside the cavity, the less dense fluid, which is inside, is pushed outward by an inverse action that I term exosmose. (1) Word derived from ex, outside, and from ōsmos, impetus.") The reconstruction *h2u̯odhh1- is from R. Beekes, Etymological Dictionary of Greek (Brill, 2010), with Greek -ōth- presumed to be a contraction from *awoth-. Beekes rejects the suggestion by Chantraine (Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue grecque) that ōtheîn is the durative form of a verb *éthein allegedly seen in éthōn, a present participle of obscure meaning that occurs twice in the Iliad (and hence parallel, according to Chantraine, with the lengthened grade seen in pōléomai "go/come frequently" as against pélomai "become, take place").

First Known Use

1863, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of osmosis was in 1863

Dictionary Entries Near osmosis

Cite this Entry

“Osmosis.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/osmosis. Accessed 25 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

osmosis

noun
os·​mo·​sis äz-ˈmō-səs How to pronounce osmosis (audio)
äs-
1
: the passage of material (as a solvent) through a membrane (as of a plant or animal cell) that will not allow all kinds of molecules to pass
2
: a taking in (as of knowledge) as if by the process of osmosis
osmotic
-ˈmät-ik
adjective

Medical Definition

osmosis

noun
os·​mo·​sis äz-ˈmō-səs How to pronounce osmosis (audio) äs- How to pronounce osmosis (audio)
plural osmoses -ˌsēz How to pronounce osmosis (audio)
: movement of a solvent through a semipermeable membrane (as of a living cell) into a solution of higher solute concentration that tends to equalize the concentrations of solute on the two sides of the membrane

More from Merriam-Webster on osmosis

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