[ el-uh-muh nt ]
/ ˈɛl ə mənt /



WATCH NOW: How Does The Word "Element" Have 15 Definitions?

The word element actually has 15 definitions, it has meanings beyond science.


Origin of element

1250–1300; Middle English (< Anglo-French) < Latin elementum one of the four elements, letter of the alphabet, first principle, rudiment


Element, component, constituent, ingredient refer to units that are parts of whole or complete substances, systems, compounds, or mixtures. Element denotes a fundamental, ultimate part: the basic elements of matter; resolve the problem into its elements. Component and constituent refer to a part that goes into the making of a complete system or compound. Component often refers to one of a number of parts: a new component for the stereo system. Constituent suggests a necessary part of the whole: The constituents of a molecule of water are two atoms of hydrogen and one of oxygen. Ingredient is most frequently used in nonscientific contexts: the ingredients of a cake; the ingredients of a successful marriage.


in·ter·el·e·ment, adjective, noun sub·el·e·ment, noun

Example sentences from the Web for element

British Dictionary definitions for element

/ (ˈɛlɪmənt) /


Word Origin for element

C13: from Latin elementum a first principle, alphabet, element, of uncertain origin

Medical definitions for element

[ ĕlə-mənt ]


A substance that cannot be reduced to simpler substances by normal chemical means and that is composed of atoms having an identical number of protons in each nucleus.
A fundamental, essential, or irreducible constituent of a composite entity.

Scientific definitions for element

[ ĕlə-mənt ]

A substance that cannot be broken down into simpler substances by chemical means. An element is composed of atoms that have the same atomic number, that is, each atom has the same number of protons in its nucleus as all other atoms of that element. Today 117 elements are known, of which 92 are known to occur in nature, while the remainder have only been made with particle accelerators. Eighty-one of the elements have isotopes that are stable. The others, including technetium, promethium, and those with atomic numbers higher than 83, are radioactive. See Periodic Table.
Mathematics A member of a set.

Word History

When Russian chemist Dmitri Mendeleev devised the Periodic Table in 1869, there were 63 known elements, which he classified by atomic weight, and arranged a table listing them with vertical rows corresponding to shared chemical characteristics. Gaps in the table suggested the possibility of elements not yet discovered, and indeed elements were later discovered, or in some cases, artificially created, that filled the gaps and had the expected chemical properties. The striking correlation between the atomic weight of an element and its chemical properties was later explained by quantum mechanical theories of the atom. The weight of an atom of any given element depends on the number of protons (and neutrons) in its nucleus, but the number of protons also determines the number and arrangement of electrons that can orbit the nucleus, and it is these outer shells of electrons that largely determine the element's chemical properties.

Cultural definitions for element


In chemistry, any material (such as carbon, hydrogen, iron, or oxygen) that cannot be broken down into more fundamental substances. Each chemical element has a specific type of atom, and chemical compounds are created when atoms of different elements are bound together into molecules. There are 119 chemical elements whose discovery has been claimed; 92 occur in nature, and the rest have been produced in laboratories.

Idioms and Phrases with element


see brave the elements; in one's element.