[ suhl-fer ]
/ ˈsʌl fər /


Also especially British, sulphur. Chemistry. a nonmetallic element that exists in several forms, the ordinary one being a yellow rhombic crystalline solid, and that burns with a blue flame and a suffocating odor: used especially in making gunpowder and matches, in medicine, in vulcanizing rubber, etc. Symbol: S; atomic weight: 32.064; atomic number: 16; specific gravity: 2.07 at 20° C.

Nearby words

  1. sulfonylurea,
  2. sulfosalicylic acid,
  3. sulfosalicylic acid turbidity test,
  4. sulfotransferase,
  5. sulfoxide,
  6. sulfur bacteria,
  7. sulfur butterfly,
  8. sulfur dioxide,
  9. sulfur dye,
  10. sulfur spring

Origin of sulfur

1300–50; Middle English sulphur < Latin sulpur, sulphur, sulfur brimstone, sulfur Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sulfur

British Dictionary definitions for sulfur


/ (ˈsʌlfə) /


the US preferred spelling of sulphur
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 sulfur



also sulphur, c.1300, from Old French soufre (13c.), from Late Latin sulfur, from Latin sulphur, probably from a root meaning "to burn." Ousted native brimstone and cognate Old English swefl.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for sulfur


n. Symbol S

A yellow nonmetallic element occurring widely in nature in several free and combined allotropic forms and used in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals and many sulfur compounds, especially sulfuric acid. Atomic number 16.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for sulfur



A pale-yellow, brittle nonmetallic element that occurs widely in nature, especially in volcanic deposits, minerals, natural gas, and petroleum. It is used to make gunpowder and fertilizer, to vulcanize rubber, and to produce sulfuric acid. Atomic number 16; atomic weight 32.066; melting point (rhombic) 112.8°C; (monoclinic) 119.0°C; boiling point 444.6°C; specific gravity (rhombic) 2.07; (monoclinic) 1.957; valence 2, 4, 6. See Periodic Table.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.