- a nonexistent chemical that, prior to the discovery of oxygen, was thought to be released during combustion.
Origin of phlogiston
Examples from the Web for phlogiston
He thought they were "compounded" of a certain earth, or calx, and phlogiston.
It was phlogiston and that only which occasioned the electric current.
I should have sent you my Defence of Phlogiston, but that I presume you have seen it.
Coal, for example, was thought to be very rich in phlogiston.An Elementary Study of Chemistry
"Phlogiston" and "vortices" had their day and are forgotten.Folkways
William Graham Sumner
- chem a hypothetical substance formerly thought to be present in all combustible materials and to be released during burning
Word Origin and History for phlogiston
1730, hypothetical inflammatory principle, formerly believed to exist in all combustible matter, from Modern Latin (1702), from Greek phlogiston (1610s in this sense), neuter of phlogistos "burnt up, inflammable," from phlogizein "to set on fire, burn," from phlox (genitive phlogos) "flame, blaze" (see bleach (v.)). Theory propounded by Stahl (1702), denied by Lavoisier (1775), defended by Priestley but generally abandoned by 1800. Related: Phlogistic; phlogisticated.
- A hypothetical colorless, odorless, weightless substance once believed to be the combustible part of all flammable substances and to be given off as flame during burning. In the 18th century, Antoine Lavoisier proved that phlogiston does not exist. See Note at Lavoisier.