• synonyms

Leyden jar

noun Electricity.
  1. a device for storing electric charge, consisting essentially of a glass jar lined inside and outside, for about two-thirds of its height, with tinfoil.
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Origin of Leyden jar

First recorded in 1815–25; so called because invented in Leyden
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for leyden jar

Historical Examples

  • The Leyden-jar should be charged when the instrument is used.

    A Treatise on Meteorological Instruments

    Henry Negretti

  • He had felt the power of a Leyden-jar discharge, and through it had nearly lost his life.

    The Story of Great Inventions

    Elmer Ellsworth Burns

  • These plates are in connection with the inner coating of a Leyden-jar, and are termed the attracting plates.

  • The whole instrument is enclosed in a metal cage, to protect the glass Leyden-jar and the delicate needle.

British Dictionary definitions for leyden jar

Leyden jar

  1. physics an early type of capacitor consisting of a glass jar with the lower part of the inside and outside coated with tin foil
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Word Origin

C18: first made in Leiden
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 leyden jar

Leyden jar


1755, phial used for accumulating and storing static electricity, from Leyden (modern Leiden), city in Holland; so called because it was first described (in 1746) by physicist Pieter van Musschenbroek of Leyden (1692-1761). The place name is said to be from Germanic *leitha- "canal."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

leyden jar in Science

Leyden jar

  1. An early device for storing electric charge that uses the same principle as a modern capacitor. It consists of a glass jar with conductive metal foil covering its inner and outer surfaces, with the glass insulating these surfaces from each other. The inner surface is charged (by an external source) through an electrode penetrating the top of the jar; the inner and outer foil layers can then hold an equal and opposite charge.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.