zir·​co·​ni·​um | \ˌzər-ˈkō-nē-əm \

Definition of zirconium 

: a steel-gray hard ductile metallic element with a high melting point that occurs widely in combined form (as in zircon), is highly resistant to corrosion, and is used especially in alloys and in refractories and ceramics — see Chemical Elements Table

Examples of zirconium in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Subsequent explosions caused by hydrogen buildup (from zirconium cladding of fuel assemblies melting and oxidizing) in Units 1, 3, and 4 then expelled radioactive contamination, most of which fell within the confines of the plant. William Steel, Ars Technica, "Remediating Fukushima—“When everything goes to hell, you go back to basics”," 11 May 2018 The metal being zirconium and the organic bit being carbon atoms. Matt Simon, WIRED, "Wanna Pull Water Out of Air? Grab Some Ions or a Weird Sponge," 8 June 2018 MOFs, unfortunately, are very expensive, but Yaghi and his team are creating a cheaper version with aluminum instead of zirconium. Angela Chen, The Verge, "Scientists are harvesting water by building fog harps and zapping the air," 8 June 2018 High-temperature chemical reactions between the zirconium fuel cladding and water created hydrogen. Andrew Karam, Popular Mechanics, "Five Years Later, Cutting Through the Fukushima Myths," 11 Mar. 2016 Among the minerals listed by the USGS, a division of the Interior Department, are aluminum, used to construct military and other aircraft, and zirconium, used to make high-temperature ceramics. Dino Grandoni, Washington Post, "The Energy 202: Trump talks a lot about coal. But his administration just named 35 'critical minerals'," 21 May 2018 Sodium fluoride, zirconium tetrafluoride, and uranium tetrafluoride salts were mixed and circulated through the reaction chamber, acting as both the reactor's fuel and coolant; sodium was used as a secondary coolant. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "Best bad idea ever? Why Putin’s nuclear-powered missile is possible… and awful," 22 Mar. 2018 The coating, made out of zirconium carbide, could solve a major problem in developing hypersonic aircraft. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "New Ceramic Plane Coating Could Be Used in Hypersonic Flight," 10 July 2017 Zirconium is a corrosion-resistant metal that does not easily absorb neutrons, and is used as the cladding to protect fuel rods. Teri Sforza, Orange County Register, "Fire in nuclear fuel pools could cause far more damage than regulators acknowledge, study says," 2 June 2017

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

See More

First Known Use of zirconium

1808, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for zirconium

New Latin, from International Scientific Vocabulary zircon

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about zirconium

Statistics for zirconium

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for zirconium

The first known use of zirconium was in 1808

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for zirconium


zir·​co·​ni·​um | \(ˌ)zər-ˈkō-nē-əm \

Medical Definition of zirconium 

: a steel-gray strong ductile chiefly tetravalent metallic element with a high melting point symbol Zr — see Chemical Elements Table

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on zirconium

What made you want to look up zirconium? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


something that serves to warn or remind

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!