[ad-sawrb, -zawrb]
verb (used with object) Physical Chemistry.
  1. to gather (a gas, liquid, or dissolved substance) on a surface in a condensed layer: Charcoal will adsorb gases.

Origin of adsorb

First recorded in 1880–85; ad- + (ab)sorb
Related formsad·sorb·a·ble, adjectivead·sorb·a·bil·i·ty, nounad·sorb·ent, adjective, nounad·sorp·tion [ad-sawrp-shuh n, -zawrp-] /ædˈsɔrp ʃən, -ˈzɔrp-/, nounad·sorp·tive, adjectivead·sorp·tive·ly, adverb
Can be confusedabsorb adsorb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Contemporary Examples of adsorbent

British Dictionary definitions for adsorbent


  1. capable of adsorption
  1. a material, such as activated charcoal, on which adsorption can occur


  1. to undergo or cause to undergo a process in which a substance, usually a gas, accumulates on the surface of a solid forming a thin film, often only one molecule thickto adsorb hydrogen on nickel; oxygen adsorbs on tungsten Compare absorb (def. 8)
Derived Formsadsorbable, adjectiveadsorbability, nounadsorption, noun

Word Origin for adsorb

C19: ad- + -sorb as in absorb
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

Word Origin and History for adsorbent



1882, transitive (intransitive use attested from 1919), back-formation from adsorption (1882), coined in German from ad- + -sorption, abstracted from absorption. See absorb. Related: Adsorbent; adsorption.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

adsorbent in Medicine


  1. Capable of adsorption.
  1. An adsorptive substance.
  2. A pharmacological substance capable of attaching other substances to its surface without any chemical action.
  3. An antigen or antibody used in immune adsorption.


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