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 Left alone, water will find its way into the chip, pulled in by surface tension. Mike Allen, Popular Mechanics, "How to Repair Your Cracked Windshield," 27 June 2019 Factors like gravity, faucet design and a drafty kitchen may have started the dripping, but all that matters in the end is the straightforward struggle between the squeeze of surface tension and the resistance of the neck’s inertia. Quanta Magazine, "Bubble Experiment Finds Universal Laws," 31 July 2019 But adding a little dish soap provides additional surface tension, allowing the bubbles to get trapped and creating lots of foam. Ben Finio, Scientific American, "Make Elephant Toothpaste," 1 Aug. 2019 In a bubble that’s slowly freezing, the changes in temperature change the surface tension, too. Knvul Sheikh, New York Times, "Watch Soap Bubbles Turn Into Tiny Snow Globes as They Freeze," 18 June 2019 The impacted segment also includes surfactants which are compounds that lower the surface tension (or interfacial tension) between two liquids, between a gas and a liquid, or between a liquid and a solid. Marissa Luck, Houston Chronicle, "Huntsman to sell chemical intermediate business for $2 billion," 8 Aug. 2019 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

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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Statistics for surface tension

Last Updated

4 Nov 2019

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

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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