semi·​con·​duc·​tor | \ ˌse-mē-kən-ˈdək-tər How to pronounce semiconductor (audio) , ˌse-ˌmī-, -mi- \

Definition of semiconductor

: any of a class of solids (such as germanium or silicon) whose electrical conductivity is between that of a conductor and that of an insulator in being nearly as great as that of a metal at high temperatures and nearly absent at low temperatures

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Did You Know?

A semiconductor is a crystal material whose ability to conduct electricity rises as its temperature goes up. That is, it sometimes acts as a conductor and sometimes as an insulator. Its conducting ability can be much increased by chemical treatment. A manufactured chip of silicon, less than half an inch square, may contain millions of microscopic transistors, which can serve control and memory functions when installed in a computer, automobile, cell phone, DVD player, or microwave oven.

Examples of semiconductor in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web It’s another blow to the semiconductor industry, whose output was already slowed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Fortune, "The news Down Under," 18 Feb. 2021 Consider restrictions preventing the US semiconductor industry from selling to Huawei, China's leader in 5G wireless technology, and other tech firms. CNN, "How Biden should confront China," 6 Dec. 2020 The shortages add to the upheaval currently affecting the semiconductor industry. Elizabeth Koh, WSJ, "Chips Are in Hot Demand—and That’s a Problem," 14 Jan. 2021 Intel has already taken steps to shed some businesses, selling its NAND flash memory business to South Korean semiconductor company SK Hynix last year for $9 billion, and its smartphone modem business to Apple the year before that. Brian Barrett, Wired, "Mobileye Puts Lidar on a Chip—and Helps Map Intel's Future," 11 Jan. 2021 William Shockley — one of the inventors of the transistor — grew up in Mountain View and returned to his hometown to start a semiconductor company in the mid 1950s. Daniel Tenreiro, National Review, "Escape from Silicon Valley," 28 Dec. 2020 The Chinese government invested $200 billion in its semiconductor industry between 2014 and 2018. James Marks, Fortune, "How Biden can avoid China getting its hands on sensitive military technology," 13 Dec. 2020 The 57-year-old manager for a Silicon Valley semiconductor company is believed to be the first person to die of COVID-19 on American soil. Amina Khan Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Coronavirus Today: How will we get the vaccine?," 13 Nov. 2020 Donald Trump’s latest headline-grabbing action against China is aimed at negating the Asian power’s push toward self-sufficiency in the $400 billion semiconductor industry., "How Chinese Chip Giant SMIC Can Evade Trump’s Newest Crackdown," 22 Dec. 2020

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

1838, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for semiconductor

Time Traveler

The first known use of semiconductor was in 1838

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Statistics for semiconductor

Last Updated

25 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Semiconductor.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2021.

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More Definitions for semiconductor



English Language Learners Definition of semiconductor

: a material or object that allows some electricity or heat to move through it and that is used especially in electronic devices


semi·​con·​duc·​tor | \ ˌse-mi-kən-ˈdək-tər How to pronounce semiconductor (audio) \

Kids Definition of semiconductor

: a solid substance that conducts electricity imperfectly


semi·​con·​duc·​tor | \ -kən-ˈdək-tər How to pronounce semiconductor (audio) \

Medical Definition of semiconductor

: any of a class of solids (as germanium or silicon) whose electrical conductivity is between that of a conductor and that of an insulator in being nearly as great as that of a metal at high temperatures and nearly absent at low temperatures

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