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

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 The focus of electrowetting is reducing the surface tension in a liquid/solid interaction via electricity. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Harvard Robotic Cockroach Walks Underwater," 3 July 2018 Since water can't adhere to any of it and the gaps between chains are so small, the surface tension of water droplets will keep them from ever penetrating the mesh. Lee Hutchinson, Ars Technica, "The Internet-demanded, partially scientific testing of Ultra-Ever Dry (in HD!)," 4 July 2018 But the under-the-surface tensions speak to just how little unity exists inside today’s Republican Party. Philip Elliott, Time, "Republicans Brace for a Brutal House Leadership Race," 1 June 2018 As Phil Plait explains for SyFyWire, not only do the researchers have to take the physics of ice into account, but things like surface tension and other factors start to become important as the structure melts. Julissa Treviño, Smithsonian, "Watch This 3D Snowflake Model Melt Over and Over Again," 25 Apr. 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

16 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for surface tension

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

: 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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