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[kahy-ruh l] /ˈkaɪ rəl/
adjective, Chemistry.
(of a molecule) not superimposable on its mirror image.
Origin of chiral
1894; chir- < Greek cheír hand + -al1; coined by Lord Kelvin
Related forms
[kahy-ral-i-tee] /kaɪˈræl ɪ ti/ (Show IPA),
noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for chirality


the configuration or handedness (left or right) of an asymmetric, optically active chemical compound Also called dissymmetry
Derived Forms
chiral, adjective
Word Origin
C19: from Greek kheir hand + -al1 + -ity
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 chirality



1894, a hybrid coined by Lord Kelvin from Latinized comb. form of Greek kheir "hand" (from PIE *ghes- "hand;" see chiro-) + -al (1).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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chirality in Medicine

chiral chi·ral (kī'rəl)
Of or relating to the structural characteristic of a molecule that makes it impossible to superimpose it on its mirror image.

chi·ral'i·ty (kī-rāl'ĭ-tē) n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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chirality in Science
The characteristic of a structure (usually a molecule) that makes it impossible to superimpose it on its mirror image. Also called handedness. See also helicity, invariance, optical isomer.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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