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surface tension

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noun Physics.
  1. 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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for surface tension

Historical Examples

  • Phenomena arising from the Variation of the Surface-tension.

    Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 5, Slice 3

    Various

  • Hence any other liquid if mixed with water diminishes its surface-tension.

  • During the early part of the splash the surface-tension is more important than gravity in checking the rise of the walls.

    A Study of Splashes

    Arthur Mason Worthington

  • We thus see how little play is given to the action of the surface-tension in a very viscous liquid.

    A Study of Splashes

    Arthur Mason Worthington

  • The surface-tension also being smaller, the less is the abatement of velocity on account of work done in extending the surface.

    A Study of Splashes

    Arthur Mason Worthington


British Dictionary definitions for surface tension

surface tension

noun
  1. a property of liquids caused by intermolecular forces near the surface leading to the apparent presence of a surface film and to capillarity, etc
  2. 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 metreSymbol: 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

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.

surface tension in Science

surface tension

[sûrfəs]
  1. 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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

surface tension in Culture

surface tension

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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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