po·​lo·​ni·​um | \ pə-ˈlō-nē-əm How to pronounce polonium (audio) \

Definition of polonium

: a radioactive metallic element that has similar chemical properties to tellurium and bismuth, is produced mainly from the radioactive decay of neutron-irradiated bismuth, and emits an alpha particle to form an isotope of lead — see Chemical Elements Table

Examples of polonium in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web But Kate’s Terminator resemblance also includes her left eye’s red and distended pupil, evidence of the polonium poisoning that will kill her in 24 hours. Amy Nicholson, Variety, 3 Sep. 2021 Only five women are currently buried at the Pantheon including Nobel Prize physicist and chemist Marie Curie who discovered radium and polonium. Ibtissem Guenfoud, ABC News, 23 Aug. 2021 So Soviet engineers who worked on military tanks contributed to the design of the chassis, while nuclear specialists provided a heater fueled by highly radioactive polonium. Anatoly Zak, Popular Mechanics, 18 July 2021 The couple discovered polonium (named after Marie’s homeland, the Kingdom of Poland) and radium within a few months. Peter Aitken, Fox News, 16 Mar. 2021 In 2006, Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB agent and fierce Putin critic, was poisoned to death in London after drinking tea laced with polonium. Star Tribune, 8 Feb. 2021 And the genesis of this is 2006 with Alexander Litvinenko, where here a former KGB, FSB spy defects to London and is poisoned by polonium. CBS News, 23 Dec. 2020 Russia has used the deadly chemical polonium and a military-grade nerve agent against former security-service officers living in Britain, and gunned down a former insurgent from Chechnya in a Berlin park. Ned Temko, The Christian Science Monitor, 10 Dec. 2020 Agents of the Russian state have killed such informants: in 2006, Alexander Litvinenko, a former F.S.B. officer who was investigating links between Putin and organized crime, died in London after ingesting polonium that was slipped into his drink. Dexter Filkins, The New Yorker, 7 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'polonium.' 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 polonium

1898, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for polonium

New Latin, from Medieval Latin Polonia

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Time Traveler for polonium

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The first known use of polonium was in 1898

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Last Updated

8 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Polonium.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/polonium. Accessed 26 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for polonium


po·​lo·​ni·​um | \ pə-ˈlō-nē-əm How to pronounce polonium (audio) \

Medical Definition of polonium

: a radioactive metallic element that is similar chemically to tellurium and bismuth, occurs especially in pitchblende and radium-lead residues, and emits an alpha particle to form an isotope of lead symbol Po — see Chemical Elements Table

More from Merriam-Webster on polonium

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about polonium


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