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[kal-uh-mel, -muh l] /ˈkæl əˌmɛl, -məl/
noun, Pharmacology.
a white, tasteless powder, Hg 2 Cl 2 , used chiefly as a purgative and fungicide.
Also called mercurous chloride.
Origin of calomel
1670-80; < New Latin calomelas coined from Greek kaló(s) fair + mélas black; allegedly so called because its original preparation involved turning black powder into white Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for calomel


/ˈkæləˌmɛl; -məl/
a colourless tasteless powder consisting chiefly of mercurous chloride, used medicinally, esp as a cathartic. Formula: Hg2Cl2
Word Origin
C17: perhaps from New Latin calomelas (unattested), literally: beautiful black (perhaps so named because it was originally sublimed from a black mixture of mercury and mercuric chloride), from Greek kalos beautiful + melas black
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for calomel

old name for mercurous chloride, 1670s, from French calomel, supposedly (Littré) from Greek kalos "fair" + melas "black;" but as the powder is yellowish-white this seems difficult. "It is perhaps of significance that the salt is blackened by ammonia and alkalis" [Flood].

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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calomel in Medicine

calomel cal·o·mel (kāl'ə-měl', -məl)
A colorless, white or brown tasteless compound used as a purgative and an insecticide. Also called mercurous chloride.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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