[ maks-wel, -wuhl ]
/ ˈmæks wɛl, -wəl /
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noun Electricity.
the centimeter-gram-second unit of magnetic flux, equal to the magnetic flux through one square centimeter normal to a magnetic field of one gauss. Abbreviation: Mx
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Origin of maxwell

First recorded in 1895–1900; named after J. C. Maxwell

Other definitions for maxwell (2 of 2)

[ maks-wel or, for 2, 3, -wuhl ]
/ ˈmæks wɛl or, for 2, 3, -wəl /

Elsa, 1883–1963, U.S. professional hostess and author.
James Clerk [klahrk], /klɑrk/, 1831–79, Scottish physicist.
a male given name.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use maxwell in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for maxwell (1 of 2)

/ (ˈmækswəl) /

the cgs unit of magnetic flux equal to the flux through one square centimetre normal to a field of one gauss. It is equivalent to 10 –8 weberSymbol: Mx

Word Origin for maxwell

C20: named after James Clerk Maxwell

British Dictionary definitions for maxwell (2 of 2)

/ (ˈmækswəl) /

James Clerk. 1831–79, Scottish physicist. He made major contributions to the electromagnetic theory, developing the equations (Maxwell equations) upon which classical theory is based. He also contributed to the kinetic theory of gases, and colour vision
(Ian) Robert, original name Robert Hoch. 1923–91, British publisher, born in Slovakia: founder (1949) of Pergamon Press; chairman of Mirror Group Newspapers Ltd. (1984–91); theft from his employees' pension funds and other frauds discovered after his death led to the collapse of his business
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

Scientific definitions for maxwell (1 of 2)

[ măkswĕl′, -wəl ]

The unit of magnetic flux in the centimeter-gram-second system, equal to the flux perpendicularly intersecting an area of one square centimeter in a region where the magnetic intensity is one gauss.

Scientific definitions for maxwell (2 of 2)

[ măkswĕl′ ]
James Clerk 1831-1879

Scottish physicist who developed four laws of electromagnetism showing that light is composed of electromagnetic waves. He also investigated heat and the kinetic theory of gases, and he experimented with color vision, producing the first color photograph in 1861.


James Clerk Maxwell was only fourteen years old when he published his first paper-an accomplishment for anyone, but especially for one who was thought by his first tutor to be slow-witted. His precocious talents, especially in mathematics, did not go unrecognized by others, however, and he started making lasting contributions to science while still very young. In his 20s, he wrote a prize-winning essay in which he showed, based on laws of classical physics, that Saturn's rings were not a single object, but a collection of small objects-a finding not confirmed until over 120 years later, when the Voyager space probe reached the planet. His most famous work was his demonstration, done while he was in his 30s, of the existence of electromagnetic waves and his conclusion that light was also part of the electromagnetic spectrum. This set of discoveries was of fundamental importance for 20th-century physics, as it paved the road for Einstein's theories of relativity and for quantum theory. Other novel ideas of Maxwell's led to the establishment of such diverse fields as information theory and cybernetics. Little wonder, then, that Einstein said, on the centenary of Maxwell's birth in 1931, that his work had been “the most profound and the most fruitful that physics has experienced since the time of Newton.”
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.