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surface tension

noun, Physics.
the elasticlike force existing in the surface of a body, especially a liquid, tending to minimize the area of the surface, caused by asymmetries in the intermolecular forces between surface molecules.
Origin of surface tension
First recorded in 1875-80 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for surface tension
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • What would cause the surface tension to break down like that?

    The Year When Stardust Fell Raymond F. Jones
  • Its presence breaks down the surface tension, as we had supposed.

    The Year When Stardust Fell Raymond F. Jones
  • Soap solution admirably fulfils Plateau's second condition, its surface tension being only about 40 per cent.

  • The force tending to resist swelling is, in the ultimate, just surface tension.

    Animal Proteins Hugh Garner Bennett
  • These motor units are supported on the surface of the water by an intensifying of the surface tension in their immediate area.

    Navy Day Harry Harrison
  • His feet rested on nothing—and yet there was some sort of tension under him—like the surface tension of water.

    The 4-D Doodler Graph Waldeyer
  • On the moon, the surface tension of the ink was exactly the same as on earth, but the gravity was five-sixths less.

    Operation: Outer Space

    William Fitzgerald Jenkins
  • Special effects of this force are classified as (a) capillary action, and (b) surface tension.

    Physics Willis Eugene Tower
  • We may therefore regard this surface tension as acting the part of a veritable physical membrane.

    The Mechanism of Life Stphane Leduc
British Dictionary definitions for surface tension

surface tension

a property of liquids caused by intermolecular forces near the surface leading to the apparent presence of a surface film and to capillarity, etc
a measure of this property expressed as the force acting normal to one side of a line of unit length on the surface: measured in newtons per metre T, γ, σ
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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surface tension in Medicine

surface tension n.

  1. A property of liquids arising from unbalanced molecular cohesive forces at or near the surface, as a result of which the surface tends to contract and exhibit properties resembling those of a stretched elastic membrane.

  2. A measure of this property.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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surface tension in Science
surface tension
A property of liquids such that their surfaces behave like a thin, elastic film. Surface tension is an effect of intermolecular attraction, in which molecules at or near the surface undergo a net attraction to the rest of the fluid, while molecules not near the surface are attracted to other molecules equally in all directions and undergo no net attraction. Because of surface tension, the surface of a liquid can support light objects (such as water beetles on the surface of a pond). Surface tension is responsible for the spherical shape of drops of liquid; spheres minimize the surface area of the drop and thus minimize surface tension. See also capillary action, meniscus.

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

surface tension definition

The force exerted along the surface of a fluid that causes it to “bead up” and form into drops. Water has high surface tension and beads up easily; alcohol has low surface tension and does not often show droplets.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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