1. Chemistry.
    1. of or noting a heterocyclic compound having a central metallic ion attached by covalent bonds to two or more nonmetallic atoms in the same molecule.
    2. of or noting a compound having a cyclic structure resulting from the formation of one or more hydrogen bonds in the same molecule.
  2. Zoology. having a chela or chelae.
  1. Chemistry. a chelate compound.
verb (used without object), che·lat·ed, che·lat·ing. Chemistry.
  1. (of a heterocyclic compound) to react to form a chelate.
  2. (of a compound) to form a ring by forming one or more hydrogen bonds.
verb (used with object), che·lat·ed, che·lat·ing.
  1. Chemistry. to combine (an organic compound) with a metallic ion to form a chelate.

Origin of chelate

First recorded in 1820–30; chel(a)1 + -ate1
Related formsche·lat·a·ble, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for chelate

Historical Examples of chelate

British Dictionary definitions for chelate


  1. chem a coordination compound in which a metal atom or ion is bound to a ligand at two or more points on the ligand, so as to form a heterocyclic ring containing a metal atom
  1. zoology of or possessing chelae
  2. chem of or denoting a chelate
  1. (intr) chem to form a chelate

Word Origin for chelate

C20: from chela 1
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 chelate

"having pincer-like claws," 1826 as a term in zoology; 1920 in chemistry, from Modern Latin chela "claw" (from Greek khele "claw, talon, cloven hoof;" see chelicerae) + -ate (2). Related: Chelated; chelating; chelation.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

chelate in Medicine


  1. A chemical compound in the form of a heterocyclic ring, containing a metal ion attached by coordinate bonds to at least two nonmetal ions.
  1. To combine a metal ion with a chemical compound to form a ring.
  2. To remove a heavy metal, such as lead or mercury, from the bloodstream by means of a chelate.
Related formschelate′ adj.che•lation n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

chelate in Science


  1. A chemical compound in the form of a ring that contains a metal ion attached by coordinate bonds to at least two nonmetal ions. Many commercial dyes as well as important biological substances, such as chlorophyll and the heme of hemoglobin, are chelates.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.