surface tension

noun

: 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 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, 16 May 2023 That means droplets will be fairly uniform in size and spacing, even if there are differences in initial conditions, such as the viscosity of the water, surface tension, or in the size of the faucet opening. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 16 May 2023 The difference in their alcohol concentrations creates a surface tension gradient, driving the flow. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 14 Mar. 2023 Guards with larger holes are a great choice for areas with heavy rainfall, though, as options with smaller holes can cause what's called surface tension, where rain just rolls right off and not through to the gutter. Kat De Naoum, Better Homes & Gardens, 25 Aug. 2023 Just as a drop of water can be pulled apart, the surface tension can pull it apart. Ashraya Gupta, Scientific American, 7 Sep. 2023 The study of bubbles breaks down to a combination of factors like surface tension and surfactants—substances that increase the life of bubbles by reducing surface tension. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, 9 July 2020 One important factor is that raindrops are held together by the surface tension of the liquid. The Physics Arxiv Blog, Discover Magazine, 3 Mar. 2021 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, 21 Apr. 2020

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'surface tension.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1876, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of surface tension was in 1876

Dictionary Entries Near surface tension

Cite this Entry

“Surface tension.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/surface%20tension. Accessed 20 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

surface tension

noun
: the attractive force felt by surface molecules of a liquid from the molecules beneath that tends to draw the surface molecules into the mass of the liquid and makes the liquid take the shape having the least surface area

Medical Definition

surface tension

noun
: 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

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