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[fos-fer-uh s, fos-fawr-uh s, -fohr-] /ˈfɒs fər əs, fɒsˈfɔr əs, -ˈfoʊr-/
adjective, Chemistry.
containing trivalent phosphorus.
Origin of phosphorous
First recorded in 1770-80; phosphor- + -ous
Related forms
nonphosphorous, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for phosphorous
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She was in the hands of six crickets, their bodies dimly visible in the phosphorous light.

    The Moon Colony William Dixon Bell
  • They had rubbed some of that phosphorous mineral on their backs.

    The Moon Colony William Dixon Bell
  • Provided free phosphorus has not been detected, it is necessary to search for phosphorous acid.

    Legal Chemistry A. Naquet
  • Because the carbon (charcoal) absorbs oxygen from the air, and conveys it to the phosphorous.

    The Reason Why Anonymous
  • It seems probable that the poisonous gas reacts on the oxyhæmoglobin of the blood, and phosphorous acid is formed.

    Poisons: Their Effects and Detection Alexander Wynter Blyth
  • Hypophosphor′ic, Hypophos′phorous, containing less oxygen than phosphorous acid contains.

  • It was quite dark, but there was a phosphorous glow to the water which made the rolling waves visible.

  • Hence we have a phosphorous and a phosphoric acid, an acetous and an acetic acid; and so on, for others in similar circumstances.

    Elements of Chemistry, Antoine Lavoisier
  • The water condenses in c, and, falling into the dish F, carries with it the sulphurous and phosphorous acids.

    Legal Chemistry A. Naquet
British Dictionary definitions for phosphorous


of or containing phosphorus in the trivalent state
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 phosphorous

1777, "phosphorescent," from phosphorus + -ous. The chemical sense (1794) is immediately from French phosphoreux.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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phosphorous in Medicine

phosphorous phos·pho·rous (fŏs'fər-əs, fŏs-fôr'əs)
Of, relating to, or containing phosphorus, especially with a valence of 3 or a valence lower than that of a comparable phosphoric compound.

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