[ plas-tik ]
See synonyms for: plasticplastics on

  1. Often plastics. any of a group of synthetic or natural organic materials that may be shaped when soft and then hardened, including many types of resins, resinoids, polymers, cellulose derivatives, casein materials, and proteins: used in place of other materials, as glass, wood, and metals, in construction and decoration, for making many articles, as coatings, and, drawn into filaments, for weaving. They are often known by trademark names, as Bakelite, Vinylite, or Lucite.

  2. a credit card, or credit cards collectively, usually made of plastic: He had a whole pocketful of plastic.

  1. money, payment, or credit represented by the use of a credit card or cards.

  2. something, or a group of things, made of or resembling plastic: The entire meal was served on plastic.

  1. made of plastic.

  2. capable of being molded or of receiving form: clay and other plastic substances.

  1. produced by molding: plastic figures.

  2. having the power of molding or shaping formless or yielding material: the plastic forces of nature.

  3. being able to create, especially within an art form; having the power to give form or formal expression: the plastic imagination of great poets and composers.

  4. Fine Arts.

    • concerned with or pertaining to molding or modeling; sculptural.

    • relating to three-dimensional form or space, especially on a two-dimensional surface.

    • pertaining to the tools or techniques of drawing, painting, or sculpture: the plastic means.

    • characterized by an emphasis on formal structure: plastic requirements of a picture.

  5. pliable; impressionable: the plastic mind of youth.

  6. giving the impression of being made of or furnished with plastic: We stayed at one of those plastic motels.

  7. artificial or insincere; synthetic; phony: jeans made of cotton, not some plastic substitute; a plastic smile.

  8. lacking in depth, individuality, or permanence; superficial, dehumanized, or mass-produced: a plastic society interested only in material acquisition.

  9. of or relating to the use of credit cards: plastic credit; plastic money.

  10. Biology, Pathology. formative.

  11. Surgery. concerned with or pertaining to the remedying or restoring of malformed, injured, or lost parts: a plastic operation.

Origin of plastic

1625–35; 1900–10 for def. 1; <Latin plasticus that may be molded <Greek plastikós.See -plast, -ic

Other words for plastic

Other words from plastic

  • plas·ti·cal·ly, plas·tic·ly, adverb
  • non·plas·tic, adjective, noun
  • un·plas·tic, adjective

Words Nearby plastic

Other definitions for -plastic (2 of 2)


  1. a combining form occurring in chloroplastic; protoplastic.

Origin of -plastic

see origin at plastic Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use plastic in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for plastic (1 of 2)


/ (ˈplæstɪk, ˈplɑːs-) /

  1. any one of a large number of synthetic usually organic materials that have a polymeric structure and can be moulded when soft and then set, esp such a material in a finished state containing plasticizer, stabilizer, filler, pigments, etc. Plastics are classified as thermosetting (such as Bakelite) or thermoplastic (such as PVC) and are used in the manufacture of many articles and in coatings, artificial fibres, etc: Compare resin (def. 2)

  2. short for plastic money

  1. made of plastic

  2. easily influenced; impressionable: the plastic minds of children

  1. capable of being moulded or formed

  2. fine arts

    • of or relating to moulding or modelling: the plastic arts

    • produced or apparently produced by moulding: the plastic draperies of Giotto's figures

  3. having the power to form or influence: the plastic forces of the imagination

  4. biology of or relating to any formative process; able to change, develop, or grow: plastic tissues

  5. of or relating to plastic surgery

  6. slang superficially attractive yet unoriginal or artificial: plastic food

Origin of plastic

C17: from Latin plasticus relating to moulding, from Greek plastikos, from plassein to form

Derived forms of plastic

  • plastically, adverb

British Dictionary definitions for -plastic (2 of 2)


adj combining form
  1. growing or forming: neoplastic

Origin of -plastic

from Greek plastikos; see plastic

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 plastic


[ plăstĭk ]

  1. Any of numerous substances that can be shaped and molded when subjected to heat or pressure. Plastics are easily shaped because they consist of long-chain molecules known as polymers, which do not break apart when flexed. Plastics are usually artificial resins but can also be natural substances, as in certain cellular derivatives and shellac. Plastics can be pressed into thin layers, formed into objects, or drawn into fibers for use in textiles. Most do not conduct electricity well, are low in density, and are often very tough. Polyvinyl chloride, methyl methacrylate, and polystyrene are plastics. See more at thermoplastic thermosetting.

  1. Capable of being molded or formed into a shape.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.