- Chemistry. a heavy, silver-white, highly toxic metallic element, the only one that is liquid at room temperature; quicksilver: used in barometers, thermometers, pesticides, pharmaceutical preparations, reflecting surfaces of mirrors, and dental fillings, in certain switches, lamps, and other electric apparatus, and as a laboratory catalyst. Symbol: Hg; atomic weight: 200.59; atomic number: 80; specific gravity: 13.546 at 20°C; freezing point: −38.9°C; boiling point: 357°C.
- Pharmacology. this metal as used in medicine, in the form of various organic and inorganic compounds, usually for skin infections.
- (initial capital letter) the ancient Roman god who served as messenger of the gods and was also the god of commerce, thievery, eloquence, and science, identified with the Greek god Hermes.
- (initial capital letter) Astronomy. the planet nearest the sun, having a diameter of 3031 miles (4878 km), a mean distance from the sun of 36 million miles (57.9 million km), and a period of revolution of 87.96 days, and having no satellites: the smallest planet in the solar system.
- a messenger, especially a carrier of news.
- any plant belonging to the genus Mercurialis, of the spurge family, especially the poisonous, weedy M. perennis of Europe.
- (initial capital letter) Aerospace. one of a series of U.S. spacecraft, carrying one astronaut, that achieved the first U.S. suborbital and orbital manned spaceflights.
Origin of mercury
Examples from the Web for mercury
He was demoted at the Mercury News, and left the paper in 1997.Jeremy Renner Opens Up About Marriage, His Problems with the Media, and the Future of Hawk-Eye
September 29, 2014
That means most of these planets orbit closer than Mercury does to the Sun.The Exoplanet That Wasn’t There
Matthew R. Francis
July 6, 2014
Kutler, the Mercury lobbyist, accompanied Klyuyev in meetings he held in Washington last year, according to the piece.Ukraine’s D.C. Lobbyists in Disarray as Dictator Flees
February 25, 2014
He went so far as to have rivers of mercury set up in his tomb, along with his famous thousand-soldier strong Terracotta Army.This Exhibit Could Kill You: The Museum of Natural History Takes on Poison
January 8, 2014
“Harry Belafonte told me I had mercury poisoning,” Simmons confided.Russell Simmons Goes Hollywood
October 4, 2013
Slept in snow-drift that night in wet clothes, mercury 40 below.The Spenders
Harry Leon Wilson
The mercury in the barometer was falling, and so was the rain.
He was the Ulysses of pirates, the beloved not only of Mercury, but of Minerva.Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates
He states that they pierced a plank, an inch thick, with a bullet made of mercury.The Field of Ice
What tricks and legerdemains with which Mercury does not cloak his thefts?The Praise of Folly
- Also called: quicksilver, hydrargyrum a heavy silvery-white toxic liquid metallic element occurring principally in cinnabar: used in thermometers, barometers, mercury-vapour lamps, and dental amalgams. Symbol: Hg; atomic no: 80; atomic wt: 200.59; valency: 1 or 2; relative density: 13.546; melting pt: –38.842°C; boiling pt: 357°C
- any plant of the euphorbiaceous genus MercurialisSee dog's mercury
- archaic a messenger or courier
- Roman myth the messenger of the godsGreek counterpart: Hermes
- the second smallest planet and the nearest to the sun. Mean distance from sun: 57.9 million km; period of revolution around sun: 88 days; period of axial rotation: 59 days; diameter and mass: 38 and 5.4 per cent that of earth respectively
Word Origin and History for mercury
"the Roman god Mercury," mid-12c., from Latin Mercurius "Mercury," originally a god of tradesmen and thieves, from merx "merchandise" (see market (n.)); or perhaps [Klein, Tucker] from Etruscan and influenced by merx. Later he was associated with Greek Hermes. The planet closest to the sun so called in classical Latin (late 14c. in English). A hypothetical inhabitant of the planet was a Mercurean (1855) or a Mercurian (1868). For the metallic element, see mercury.
silver-white fluid metallic element, late 14c., from Medieval Latin mercurius, from Latin Mercurius (see Mercury). Prepared from cinnabar, it was one of the seven metals (bodies terrestrial) known to the ancients, which were coupled in astrology and alchemy with the seven known heavenly bodies. This one probably so associated for its mobility. The others were Sun/gold, Moon/silver, Mars/iron, Saturn/lead, Jupiter/tin, Venus/copper. The Greek name for it was hydrargyros "liquid silver," which gives the element its symbol, Hg. Cf. quicksilver.
- A silvery-white poisonous metallic element, liquid at room temperature, used in thermometers and various pharmaceuticals including antiseptics, diuretics, and antibacterials. Its radioisotope Hg-197 is used in diagnostic imaging of renal function and in brain scans. Atomic number 80.hydrargyrum
- A silvery-white, dense, poisonous metallic element that is a liquid at room temperature and is used in thermometers, barometers, batteries, and pesticides. Atomic number 80; atomic weight 200.59; melting point -38.87°C; boiling point 356.58°C; specific gravity 13.546 (at 20°C); valence 1, 2. See Periodic Table.
Word History: Like a few other elements, mercury has a chemical symbol, Hg, that bears no resemblance to its name. This is because Hg is an abbreviation of the Latin name of the element, which was hydrargium. This word in turn was taken over from Greek, where it literally meant water-silver. With this name the Greeks were referring to the fact that mercury is a silvery liquid at room temperature, rather than a solid like other metals. Similarly, an older English name for this element is quicksilver, which means living silver, referring to its ability to move like a living thing. (The word quick used to mean alive, as in the Biblical phrase the quick and the dead.) The name mercury refers to the fact that the element flows about quickly: the name comes from the Roman god Mercury, who was the swift-footed messenger of the gods.
- The planet closest to the Sun and the smallest in the solar system. Mercury is a terrestrial or inner planet, second in density only to Earth, with a rugged, heavily-cratered surface similar in appearance to Earth's Moon. Its rotational period of 58.6 days is two-thirds of its 88-day orbital period, thus, it makes three full axial rotations every two years. Mercury's atmosphere is almost nonexistent; this fact, which produces rapid radiational cooling on its dark side, together with its proximity to the Sun, gives it a temperature range greater than any other planet in the solar system, from 466° to -184°C (870° to -300°F). Because it is so close to the Sun, Mercury is only visible shortly before sunrise or after sunset, and observation is further hindered by the fact that its light must pass obliquely through the lower atmosphere where it is distorted or filtered by dust and pollution. See Table at solar system.
The Roman name of Hermes, the messenger of the Greek and Roman gods.