phosphorus

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noun, often attributive phos·pho·rus \ˈfäs-f(ə-)rəs\

Definition of phosphorus

  1. 1 :  a phosphorescent substance or body; especially :  one that shines or glows in the dark

  2. 2 or less commonly phosphorous \ˈfäs-f(ə-)rəs\ :  a nonmetallic element of the nitrogen family that occurs widely especially as phosphates — see element table

Recent Examples of phosphorus from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of phosphorus

New Latin, from Greek phōsphoros light-bearing — more at phosphor


PHOSPHORUS Defined for English Language Learners

phosphorus

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noun

Definition of phosphorus for English Language Learners

  • chemistry : a poisonous chemical element that glows in the dark and burns when it is touched by air


PHOSPHORUS Defined for Kids

phosphorus

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noun phos·pho·rus \ˈfäs-fə-rəs\

Definition of phosphorus for Students

  1. :  a white or yellowish waxy chemical element that gives a faint glow in moist air


Medical Dictionary

phosphorus

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noun , often attributive phos·pho·rus \ˈfäs-f(ə-)rəs\

Medical Definition of phosphorus

  1. :  a nonmetallic multivalent element that occurs widely in combined form especially as inorganic phosphates in minerals, soils, natural waters, bones, and teeth and as organic phosphates in all living cells and that exists in several allotropic forms—symbol P; see element table



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