surface tension

[ sur-fis ten-shuhn ]

  1. the elasticlike force existing in the surface of a body, especially a liquid, tending to minimize the area of the surface, caused by asymmetries in the intermolecular forces between surface molecules.

Origin of surface tension

First recorded in 1875–80

Words Nearby surface tension Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use surface tension in a sentence

  • The fact that her show is called “surface tension” makes clear that she understands and intends this reference.

    A Veneer of Charm, With Depth | Blake Gopnik | October 30, 2013 | THE DAILY BEAST
  • It depends upon the fact that bile acids lower surface tension.

    A Manual of Clinical Diagnosis | James Campbell Todd
  • His feet rested on nothing—and yet there was some sort of tension under him—like the surface tension of water.

    The 4-D Doodler | Graph Waldeyer
  • On the moon, the surface tension of the ink was exactly the same as on earth, but the gravity was five-sixths less.

    Operation: Outer Space | William Fitzgerald Jenkins
  • The modern physicist explains the phenomenon as due to surface-tension of the fluid.

  • This may be a tropism (stereotropism) or it may be a mere surface tension phenomenon.

British Dictionary definitions for surface tension

surface tension

  1. a property of liquids caused by intermolecular forces near the surface leading to the apparent presence of a surface film and to capillarity, etc

  2. a measure of this property expressed as the force acting normal to one side of a line of unit length on the surface: measured in newtons per metre: Symbol: T, γ, σ

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 surface tension

surface tension

[ sûrfəs ]

  1. A property of liquids such that their surfaces behave like a thin, elastic film. Surface tension is an effect of intermolecular attraction, in which molecules at or near the surface undergo a net attraction to the rest of the fluid, while molecules not near the surface are attracted to other molecules equally in all directions and undergo no net attraction. Because of surface tension, the surface of a liquid can support light objects (such as water beetles on the surface of a pond). Surface tension is responsible for the spherical shape of drops of liquid; spheres minimize the surface area of the drop and thus minimize surface tension. See also capillary action meniscus.

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

Cultural definitions for surface tension

surface tension

The force exerted along the surface of a fluid that causes it to “bead up” and form into drops. Water has high surface tension and beads up easily; alcohol has low surface tension and does not often show droplets.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.