: 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
Recent Examples on the Web These chemicals—which influence wave activity by decreasing the water's surface tension—often accompany microplastics as a by-product of plastic production and breakdown and are carried on the same ocean currents. —Lauren J. Young, Scientific American, 26 Apr. 2023 At tiny scales, the droplets store energy due to inherent surface tension. —Laura Baisas, Popular Science, 28 Feb. 2023 Water has surface tension, for example, caused by the electrostatic attraction between water molecules. —Phil Plait, Discover Magazine, 20 Jan. 2012 The surface tension, though, is rapidly building. —Billy Witz, New York Times, 25 Nov. 2020 At the same time, the flicker compresses the droplet, allowing energy to build through surface tension. —Justine Calma, The Verge, 3 Mar. 2023 Before they’re flung, the droplets compress, storing up energy in surface tension. —Jack Tamisiea, Scientific American, 28 Feb. 2023 Mondrian appealed to Americans in part because his aesthetic dovetailed with the Dutch Pennsylvania and Shaker traditions of surface tension and simplicity, and with Frank Lloyd Wright, whose architecture transposed the hubris of verticality into the harmoniousness of horizontality. —Washington Post, 12 May 2021 One, detergents work by decreasing surface tension, allowing dirty particles—and microfibers—trapped in woven loops to escape. —Matt Simon, Wired, 22 June 2020 See More
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.
Love words? Need even more definitions?Merriam-Webster unabridged
See Definitions and Examples »
Get Word of the Day daily email!
Words at Play
Palter, Dissemble, and Other Words for Lying
Skunk, Bayou, and Other Words with Native American Origins
You've used more than you might think
Words For Things You Didn't Know Have Names, Vol. 2
When 'thingamajig' and 'thingamabob' just won't do
When Were Words First Used?
Look up any year to find out
Ask the Editors