po·​lo·​ni·​um | \ pə-ˈlō-nē-əm How to pronounce polonium (audio) \

Definition of polonium

: a radioactive metallic element that has similar chemical properties to tellurium and bismuth, is produced mainly from the radioactive decay of neutron-irradiated bismuth, and emits an alpha particle to form an isotope of lead — see Chemical Elements Table

Examples of polonium in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In 2006, Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB agent and fierce Putin critic, was poisoned to death in London after drinking tea laced with polonium. Star Tribune, "Biden needs to show Putin that Trump bromance is over," 8 Feb. 2021 And the genesis of this is 2006 with Alexander Litvinenko, where here a former KGB, FSB spy defects to London and is poisoned by polonium. CBS News, "Director Bryan Fogel discusses his new film on Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's killing," 23 Dec. 2020 Russia has used the deadly chemical polonium and a military-grade nerve agent against former security-service officers living in Britain, and gunned down a former insurgent from Chechnya in a Berlin park. Ned Temko, The Christian Science Monitor, "State-sponsored assassination: New tools, old questions," 10 Dec. 2020 Agents of the Russian state have killed such informants: in 2006, Alexander Litvinenko, a former F.S.B. officer who was investigating links between Putin and organized crime, died in London after ingesting polonium that was slipped into his drink. Dexter Filkins, The New Yorker, "The Contested Afterlife of the Trump-Alfa Bank Story," 7 Oct. 2020 Alexander Litvinenko was given a fatal dose of polonium 210 in his tea in a London restaurant in 2006, while Sergei Skripal survived an assassination attempt with a nerve agent, Novichok, in 2018. Jake Rudnitsky, Bloomberg.com, "Putin, Poison and the Importance of Alexey Navalny," 25 Aug. 2020 The defector Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned with polonium, in 2006. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, "The Suspected Poisoning of Alexey Navalny, Putin’s Most Prominent Adversary," 20 Aug. 2020 Her accomplishments included the discovery of the elements radium and polonium, and conducting the first studies into the treatment of cancer using radiation. Tyler Aquilina, EW.com, "Rosamund Pike is Radioactive as Marie Curie in new biopic trailer," 10 July 2020 Rona’s polonium went on to be used in numerous experiments. New York Times, "Overlooked No More: Elizabeth Rona, Pioneering Scientist Amid Dangers of War," 28 Aug. 2019

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

1898, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for polonium

New Latin, from Medieval Latin Polonia

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Time Traveler for polonium

Time Traveler

The first known use of polonium was in 1898

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Statistics for polonium

Last Updated

16 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Polonium.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/polonium. Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

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po·​lo·​ni·​um | \ pə-ˈlō-nē-əm How to pronounce polonium (audio) \

Medical Definition of polonium

: a radioactive metallic element that is similar chemically to tellurium and bismuth, occurs especially in pitchblende and radium-lead residues, and emits an alpha particle to form an isotope of lead symbol Po — see Chemical Elements Table

More from Merriam-Webster on polonium

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about polonium

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