[ kahy-ruh l ]
/ ˈkaɪ rəl /

adjective Chemistry.

(of a molecule) not superimposable on its mirror image.

Origin of chiral

1894; chir- < Greek cheír hand + -al1; coined by Lord Kelvin
Related formschi·ral·i·ty [kahy-ral-i-tee] /kaɪˈræl ɪ ti/, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for chirality


/ (kaɪˈrælɪtɪ) /


the configuration or handedness (left or right) of an asymmetric, optically active chemical compoundAlso called: dissymmetry
Derived Formschiral, adjective

Word Origin for chirality

C19: from Greek kheir hand + -al 1 + -ity
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 chirality



1894, a hybrid coined by Lord Kelvin from Latinized comb. form of Greek kheir "hand" (from PIE *ghes- "hand;" see chiro-) + -al (1).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for chirality


[ kīrəl ]


Of or relating to the structural characteristic of a molecule that makes it impossible to superimpose it on its mirror image.
Related formschi•rali•ty (kī-rălĭ-tē) n.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for chirality


[ kī-rălĭ-tē ]

The characteristic of a structure (usually a molecule) that makes it impossible to superimpose it on its mirror image. Also called handedness See also helicity invariance optical isomer.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.