surface tension

noun

Definition of surface tension

: the attractive force exerted upon the surface molecules of a liquid by the molecules beneath that tends to draw the surface molecules into the bulk of the liquid and makes the liquid assume the shape having the least surface area

Examples of surface tension in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

But dispersion is caused by its capillarity — the surface tension effect that makes some liquids rise in straws. Quanta Magazine, "Famous Fluid Equations Are Incomplete," 21 July 2015 The apple cider vinegar tempts the flies with its stale sweetness, and the dish soap actually works to decrease the surface tension of the liquid, so the flies are immediately immersed upon investigating and can’t escape. Natalie Schumann, Country Living, "How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies for Good," 9 May 2019 The Georgia Tech team, however, discovered that the papillae actually curve backward toward the throat, enabling them to exploit surface tension to wick up water via capillary action—the same way plants absorb water from soil. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Science says your cat’s tongue is ideally suited for grooming fur," 28 Dec. 2018 For the first, the gecko combines surface slapping and surface tension, aided by their unique hydrophobic skin that repels water, according to Nirody. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Geckos’ new superpower is running on water; now we know how they do it," 6 Dec. 2018 Back in the 1800s, Belgian physicist Joseph Plateau outlined four basic laws of surface tension that determine the structure of soapy films. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "There’s now an even more precise “recipe” for blowing the perfect bubble," 2 Sep. 2018 But surfactants lower surface tension, which means that a rising bubble doesn’t immediately burst. Mika Mckinnon, Smithsonian, "Sea Foam Delights Visitors of Lebanese Beach," 31 Jan. 2018 The soap cuts the surface tension of the vinegar so the flies will sink and drown. Lauren Piro, Good Housekeeping, "7 Genius Ways to Kill Fruit Flies," 11 July 2018 This should allow surface tension to bring water through the coating and into contact with the surface being protected. Lee Hutchinson, Ars Technica, "The Internet-demanded, partially scientific testing of Ultra-Ever Dry (in HD!)," 4 July 2018

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

1876, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

15 Jul 2019

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The first known use of surface tension was in 1876

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More Definitions for surface tension

surface tension

noun

English Language Learners Definition of surface tension

technical : the force that causes the molecules on the surface of a liquid to be pushed together and form a layer

surface tension

noun

Medical Definition of surface tension

: the attractive force exerted upon the surface molecules of a liquid by the molecules beneath that tends to draw the surface molecules into the bulk of the liquid and makes the liquid assume the shape having the least surface area

More from Merriam-Webster on surface tension

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with surface tension

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about surface tension

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