Also called capillary action, capillary attraction. Physics. a manifestation of surface tension by which the portion of the surface of a liquid coming in contact with a solid is elevated or depressed, depending on the adhesive or cohesive properties of the liquid.

Origin of capillarity

First recorded in 1820–30; capillary + -ty2
Related formsnon·cap·il·lar·i·ty, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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Historical Examples of capillarity

British Dictionary definitions for capillarity



a phenomenon caused by surface tension and resulting in the distortion, elevation, or depression of the surface of a liquid in contact with a solidAlso called: capillary action
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 capillarity

1806, from French capillarité, from Latin capillaris (see capillary).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

capillarity in Medicine




The interaction between contacting surfaces of a liquid and a solid that distorts the liquid surface from a planar shape.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.