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 The two discovered two radioactive elements together: polonium and radium. Georgia Slater, PEOPLE.com, "#SeeHer Story Honors Marie and Irène Curie, Mother-Daughter Medicine Moguls in Episode 11," 18 Dec. 2019 Researchers soon learned that polonium could be used in these experiments instead. New York Times, "Overlooked No More: Elizabeth Rona, Pioneering Scientist Amid Dangers of War," 28 Aug. 2019 It’s quickly converted to polonium, another radioactive element, which can attach to dust particles before being deposited in lungs. Beth Nakamura, The Oregonian - OregonLive.com, "The government urges private homeowners to test for cancer-causing radon gas. For low-income tenants of public housing, the government ignores its own advice.," 22 Nov. 2019 Berezovsky sings a vaudeville number; the origins of polonium are outlined in verse. The Economist, "A bold new play about Alexander Litvinenko’s murder," 5 Sep. 2019 In the Litvinenko poisoning case, the U.K. inquiry found that the polonium was intentionally administered to Mr. Litvinenko by Andrei Lugovoi, a former FSB colleague, and Dmitry Kovtun, a Russian businessman. Alan Cullison, WSJ, "Former Russian Spy Poisoned by Nerve Agent, U.K. Police Say," 7 Mar. 2018 Litvinenko was allegedly slipped a dose of the radioactive isotope polonium through a cup of tea and developed radiation poisoning soon afterward. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Pentagon Wants VR To Train for Nuclear War," 9 July 2019 In 2006 Alexander Litvinenko, a Russian defector to the U.K., was poisoned in London with polonium from a Russian nuclear facility. Michael B. Mukasey, WSJ, "The Russia Indictments: Why Now?," 16 July 2018 One of them was Andrei Lugovoi, who in 2006 slipped some radioactive polonium into the tea of Mr. Litvinenko in a Mayfair restaurant, London police say. Alan Cullison, WSJ, "A Trio of Wealthy Russians Made an Enemy of Putin. Now They’re All Dead.," 10 Oct. 2018

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

21 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Polonium.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/polonium. Accessed 21 January 2020.

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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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