vapor

1 of 2

noun

va·​por ˈvā-pər How to pronounce vapor (audio)
1
: diffused matter (such as smoke or fog) suspended floating in the air and impairing its transparency
2
a
: a substance in the gaseous state as distinguished from the liquid or solid state
b
: a substance (such as gasoline, alcohol, mercury, or benzoin) vaporized for industrial, therapeutic, or military uses
also : a mixture (such as the explosive mixture in an internal combustion engine) of such a vapor with air
3
a
: something unsubstantial or transitory : phantasm
b
: a foolish or fanciful idea
4
vapors plural
a
archaic : exhalations of bodily organs (such as the stomach) held to affect the physical or mental condition
b
: a depressed or hysterical nervous condition

vapor

2 of 2

verb

vapored; vaporing ˈvā-p(ə-)riŋ How to pronounce vapor (audio)

intransitive verb

1
a
: to rise or pass off in vapor
b
: to emit vapor
2
: to indulge in bragging, blustering, or idle talk
vaporer noun

Did you know?

Speakers of the English language, mindful of the lightness and unsubstantiality of floating air and gas, have put several airy words to good use over the years to describe the act of talking idly or boastfully. The earliest such word is blow (as in "he kept blowing about his new job"), which drifted into English sometime about 1400. Vapor wafted into the language in the 1620s, and a little over 200 years later windbags, later also known as gasbags, not only blew and vapored but also gassed about anything they could.

Example Sentences

Verb a faded Southern belle tiresomely vaporing about all the handsome beaux she had in her long-ago youth
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
And Ryp Labs, based in the U.S. and Belgium, is working on a produce sticker that would release a vapor to slow ripening. Dee-ann Durbin, The Christian Science Monitor, 22 Dec. 2022 The 100% leather upper features a KEEN.DRY membrane that’s completely waterproof yet breathable enough to let vapor (and sweat) escape. John Thompson, Men's Health, 9 Dec. 2022 And Ryp Labs, based in the U.S. and Belgium, is working on a produce sticker that would release a vapor to slow ripening. Dee-ann Durbin, Anchorage Daily News, 9 Dec. 2022 The other three workers, who were also sickened, had escaped the room after hearing a popping sound followed by the release of a carbon dioxide vapor used to extinguish fires in the electrical room without water. Christian Martinezstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 15 Nov. 2022 The cooler temperature causes the moisture vapor in the air leaving your dryer to condense. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, 14 Nov. 2022 First downs — a total of nine of them — were little more than vapor for the visitors here. Gordon Monson, The Salt Lake Tribune, 14 Nov. 2022 This heated vapor is then replaced by coolant pulled from the interior of the flow channel. Darren Orf, Popular Mechanics, 11 Nov. 2022 The baker hits the button, floods the oven-deck with a gash of vapor—for how many seconds? James Parker, The Atlantic, 30 Nov. 2022
Verb
Large windows angle open, and massive glass doors turn indoors into outdoors with a smooth slide as state-of-the-art ventilation systems silently spirit smoke and vapor away. Los Angeles Times, 7 Dec. 2022 Despite what ads tell you, no waterproof shell is completely breathable—blocking water requires some impediments to vapor transfer. Outside Online, 27 May 2022 The work had to be done quickly as water vanished to vapor in the early summer heat. Scott Wilson, Washington Post, 19 June 2021 Meanwhile, in a natural process called wicking, that moisture turns to vapor as it is continuously pulled outward from minuscule air spaces between the fibers of the felt, eventually evaporating entirely. Emma Wartzman, Bon Appétit, 5 Nov. 2020 In the fourth, Evers used his veto in an attempt to ensure a tax on vaping products would apply to any device containing fluid and to vapor fluid sold separately. Washington Post, 31 July 2019 In the fourth, Evers used his veto in an attempt to ensure a tax on vaping products would apply to any device containing fluid and to vapor fluid sold separately. Washington Post, 31 July 2019 But whole body cryotherapy exposes the body for a couple of minutes to vapor that has been supercooled to somewhere between minus 200 and minus 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Aaron E. Carroll, New York Times, 2 Jan. 2017 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'vapor.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English vapour, borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French vapor, vapour, borrowed from Latin vapor, earlier vapōs "exhalation, steam, warmth," perhaps akin to Lithuanian kvãpas "smell, scent"

First Known Use

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of vapor was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near vapor

Cite this Entry

“Vapor.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/vapor. Accessed 26 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition

vapor

noun
va·​por
ˈvā-pər
1
: fine particles of matter (as fog or smoke) floating in the air and clouding it
2
: a substance in the gaseous state

Medical Definition

vapor

noun
va·​por
variants or chiefly British vapour
1
a
: a substance in the gaseous state as distinguished from the liquid or solid state
b
: a substance (as alcohol or benzoin) vaporized for industrial, therapeutic, or military uses
2
vapors or chiefly British vapours plural
a
: exhalations of bodily organs (as the stomach) formerly held to affect the physical or mental condition
b
: a depressed or hysterical nervous condition

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