Phosphorus
Phosphorus Phos"phor*us (f[o^]s"f[o^]r*[u^]s), n.; pl. {Phosphori} (f[o^]s"f[o^]r*[imac]). [L., the morning star, Gr. fwsfo`ros, lit., light bringer; fw^s light + fe`rein to bring.] 1. The morning star; Phosphor. [1913 Webster]

2. (Chem.) A poisonous nonmetallic element of the nitrogen group, obtained as a white, or yellowish, translucent waxy substance, having a characteristic disagreeable smell; this waxy allotropic form is also called {yellow phosphorus}, to distinguish it from another allotropic form, {red phosphorus}. It is very active chemically, must be preserved under water, and unites with oxygen even at ordinary temperatures, giving a faint glow, -- whence its name. It always occurs combined, usually in phosphates, as in the mineral apatite, in bones, etc. It is used in the composition on the tips of friction matches, and for many other purposes. The molecule contains four atoms. Symbol P. Atomic weight 31.0. [1913 Webster]

3. (Chem.) Hence, any substance which shines in the dark like phosphorus, as certain phosphorescent bodies. [1913 Webster]

{Bologna phosphorus} (Chem.), sulphide of barium, which shines in the dark after exposure to light; -- so called because this property was discovered by a resident of Bologna. The term is sometimes applied to other compounds having similar properties.

{Metallic phosphorus} (Chem.), an allotropic modification of phosphorus, obtained as a gray metallic crystalline substance, having very inert chemical properties. It is obtained by heating ordinary phosphorus in a closed vessel at a high temperature.

{Phosphorus disease} (Med.), a disease common among workers in phosphorus, giving rise to necrosis of the jawbone, and other symptoms.

{Red phosphorus}, or {Amorphous phosphorus} (Chem.), an allotropic modification of phosphorus, obtained as a dark red powder by heating ordinary phosphorus in closed vessels. It is not poisonous, is not phosphorescent, and is only moderately active chemically. It is valuable as a chemical reagent, and is used in the composition of the friction surface on which safety matches are ignited.

{Solar phosphori} (Chem.), phosphorescent substances which shine in the dark after exposure to the sunlight or other intense light.

{yellow phosphorus} (Chem.), the waxy yellow allotropic form of elemental phosphorus. See also {phosphorus}[2]. [1913 Webster +PJC]


The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

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  • phosphorus — phosphorus, phosphorous Phosphorus is the noun for the chemical element, and phosphorous is the adjective meaning ‘containing phosphorus’ …   Modern English usage

  • phosphorus — [fäs′fə rəs] n. [ModL < L Phosphorus, morning star < Gr phōsphoros, bringer of light < phōs, a light, contr. < phaos < IE base * bhā , to shine > Gr phainein, to show (> FANTASY) + PHOR(O)US] 1. Archaic any phosphorescent… …   English World dictionary

  • phosphorus — substance or organism that shines of itself, 1640s, from L. phosphorus light bringing, also the morning star (a sense attested in English from 1620), from Gk. Phosphoros morning star, lit. torchbearer, from phos light (related to phainein to show …   Etymology dictionary

  • phosphorus — ► NOUN ▪ a poisonous non metallic chemical element existing as a yellowish waxy solid which ignites spontaneously in air and glows in the dark, and as a less reactive form used in making matches. DERIVATIVES phosphorous adjective. USAGE The… …   English terms dictionary

  • phosphorus — Symbol: P Atomic number: 15 Atomic weight: 30.9738 Non metallic element belonging to group 15 of the periodic table. Has a multiple allotropic forms. Essential element for living organisms. It was discovered by Brandt in 1669 …   Elements of periodic system

  • Phosphorus — This article is about the chemical element. For other uses, see Phosphorus (disambiguation). silicon ← phosphorus → sulfur …   Wikipedia

  • phosphorus — /fos feuhr euhs/, n., pl. phosphori / feuh ruy /. 1. Chem. a solid, nonmetallic element existing in at least three allotropic forms, one that is yellow, poisonous, flammable, and luminous in the dark, one that is red, less poisonous, and less… …   Universalium

  • Phosphorus — /fos feuhr euhs/, n. Phosphor. * * * Nonmetallic chemical element, chemical symbol P, atomic number 15. The ordinary allotrope, called white phosphorus, is a poisonous, colourless, semitransparent, soft, waxy solid that glows in the dark (see… …   Universalium

  • Phosphorus — An essential element in the diet and a major component of bone. * * * A nonmetallic chemical element, atomic no. 15, atomic wt. 30.973762, occurring extensively in nature always in combination as phosphates, phosphites, etc., and as the phosphate …   Medical dictionary

  • phosphorus — [17] Etymologically, phosphorus means ‘bringing light’. The word comes via Latin phōsphorus from Greek phōsphóros, a compound adjective formed from phōs ‘light’ and the suffix phóros ‘carrying’ (a relative of English bear), which was used as an… …   The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins

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