• WordNet 3.6
    • n Phosphorus a planet (usually Venus) seen just before sunrise in the eastern sky
    • n phosphorus a multivalent nonmetallic element of the nitrogen family that occurs commonly in inorganic phosphate rocks and as organic phosphates in all living cells; is highly reactive and occurs in several allotropic forms
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: German chemist Hennig Brand discovered phosphorus while he was examining urine for a way to turn baser metals into gold.
    • Phosphorus (Chem) A poisonous nonmetallic element of the nitrogen group, obtained as a white, or yellowish, translucent waxy substance, having a characteristic disagreeable smell; this waxy allotropic form is also called yellow phosphorus, to distinguish it from another allotropic form, red phosphorus. It is very active chemically, must be preserved under water, and unites with oxygen even at ordinary temperatures, giving a faint glow, -- whence its name. It always occurs combined, usually in phosphates, as in the mineral apatite, in bones, etc. It is used in the composition on the tips of friction matches, and for many other purposes. The molecule contains four atoms. Symbol P. Atomic weight 31.0.
    • Phosphorus (Chem) Hence, any substance which shines in the dark like phosphorus, as certain phosphorescent bodies.
    • Phosphorus The morning star; Phosphor.
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
  • Interesting fact: The human body contains enough phosphorus to make the heads of 200 matches, enough fat for seven bars of soap, and enough iron to make one nail.
    • n phosphorus [capitalized] The morning star; Phosphor.
    • n phosphorus Chemical symbol, P; atomic weight, 31; specific gravity, 1.826. A solid non-metallic combustible substance, hitherto undecomposed, not found by itself in nature, but occurring chiefly in combination with oxygen, calcium, and magnesium. It is widely distributed, being an essential constituent of all plants and of the bony tissue of animals. It was originally obtained from urine; but it is now manufactured from bones, which consist in large part of calcium phosphate. Common phosphorus, when pure, is semi-transparent and colorless. At common temperatures it is a soft solid, easily cut with a knife, the cut surface having a waxy luster; at 108°F. it fuses, and at 550° is converted into vapor. It is soluble, by the aid of heat, in naphtha, in fixed and volatile oils, and in sulphur chlorid, carbon disulphid, and phosphorus sulphid. It is exceedingly inflammable. Exposed to the air at common temperatures, it undergoes slow combustion, emits a white vapor of a peculiar garlic odor, and appears luminous in the dark. A very slight degree of heat is sufficient to inflame it in the open air. Gentle pressure between the fingers, friction, or a temperature not much above its point of fusion kindles it readily. It burns rapidly even in the air, emitting a splendid white light, and causing intense heat. Its combustion is far more rapid iu oxygen gas, and the light far more vivid. The product of the perfect combustion of phosphorus is phosphorous pentoxid (P2O5), a white solid which readily takes up water, passing into phosphoric acid (which see, under phosphoric). Phosphorus may be made to combine with most of the metals, forming compounds called phosphides; when dissolved in fat oils it forms a solution which is luminous in the dark. It is chiefly used in the preparation of luciffer matches, and in the preparation of phosphoric acid. It is used to some extent in medicine in nervous affections, but is virulently poisonous except in very minute doses. Phosphorus presents a good example of allotropy, in that it can be exhibited in at least one other form, known as red or amorphous phosphorus, presenting completely different properties from common phosphorus. This variety is produced by keeping common phosphorus for a long time slightly below the boiling-point. It is a red, hard, brittle substance, not fusible, not poisonous, and not readily inflammable, so that it may be handled with impunity. When heated to the boiling-point it changes back to common phosphorus.
    • n phosphorus A small bottle containing 12 grains of phosphorus melted in half an ounce of olive-oil. On being uncorked in the dark this solution emits light enough to illuminate the dial of a watch, and it will retain this property for several years if not too frequently used.
    • n phosphorus [With a pl. phosphori (-rī).] In early use, a substance which emits light otherwise than as the result of ordinary combustion. Thus mention is made of the phosphori of Canton, Homberg, Baldwin, etc. The principal causes of such emission of light are previous exposure to light (insolation), to heat, to mechanical violence (friction, percussion, etc.), to electrical discharge, and to slow surface oxidation, as also the vital processes in the bodies of animals and plants.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
  • Interesting fact: German chemist Hennig Brand discovered phosphorus while he was examining urine.
    • n Phosphorus fos′fō-rus the morning-star: a yellowish substance, like wax, inflammable and giving out light in the dark
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
L., the morning star, Gr. fwsfo`ros, lit., light bringer; fw^s light + fe`rein to bring
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
L.,—Gr.,—phōsphoros, light-bearer—phōs, light, phoros, bearing, from pherein, to bear.


In literature:

The semi-transparent, colourless, extremely active substance called phosphorus may be so changed as to become opaque, dark red, and inert.
"Essays: Scientific, Political, & Speculative, Vol. I" by Herbert Spencer
I can get some phosphorus in the woods and put it in the eyes.
"Our Next-Door Neighbors" by Belle Kanaris Maniates
A Chinaman emptied a bucket of phosphorus over me and almost burned me up.
"Alaska Days with John Muir" by Samual Hall Young
Phosphoric acid is composed of phosphorus and oxygen.
"The Elements of Agriculture" by George E. Waring
Thorpe's investigation of the products of the slow combustion of phosphorus.
"Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 6, Slice 1" by Various
They have no phosphorus or mercury in their composition.
"German Problems and Personalities" by Charles Sarolea
Burning phosphorus in confined air will also take all the oxygen from it, and there are other ways of doing the same thing.
"Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Volume 1, No. 4, September, 1850" by Various
Put a bit of phosphorus in the focus of the other.
"Harper's New Monthly Magazine, Vol. 2, No. 8, January, 1851" by Various
A whale is full of phosphorus.
"Cupid's Middleman" by Edward B. Lent
Then his hold loosened and he fell with a splash into the phosphorus water where the sharks were already gathering.
"The Portal of Dreams" by Charles Neville Buck

In poetry:

"Here your Hamar-made matches!"
No phosphorus-poison more!
The bearer of light up-catches
The work of the school before:—
"Hamar-Made Matches" by Bjornstjerne Bjornson
And deep and wide the rotten side
Slipped into the hungry hole,
And the phosphorus leapt and vanished
Like the flight of the stranger’s soul.
"The Legend of Cooee Gully" by Henry Lawson

In news:

New source of phosphorus .
Each year, US farmers use about 3.7 billion pounds of phosphorus fertilizer, which is mined from underground phosphorus deposits around the world.
Rare testing opportunity on Minnesota River shows positive results in reducing phosphorus .
Phosphorus is being rooted out of the home and garden, and a Michigan-wide ban may be in our future.
New USDA program to help VT farmers reduce phosphorus loading.
Public hearings in VT, Quebec on phosphorus in Lake Champlain's Missisquoi Bay.
Turf Builder will be phosphorus -free by 2012.
The problem with phosphorus , according to scientists, is that it can turn aquatic habitats into dead zones.
It may be an essential nutrient for growing crops, but phosphorus (P) can wreak havoc when it flows to noncropping areas like streams, rivers, and lakes.
Phosphorus loads are measured by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Water Management Division in three main tributaries: the Otter Creek, the Missisquoi River and the Winooski River.
Israel under fire for alleged white phosphorus use.
United Phosphorus Acquires Crop Protection Firm.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation submitted its proposal for limiting the amount of phosphorus discharged into Chautauqua Lake to the US Environmental Protection Agency, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens announced.
Using Phosphorus Starvation to Regulate Growth.
Phosphorus , Part 3: Fishing industry struggles with fertilizer runoff.

In science:

Moreover, the ultraviolet P V resonance lines indicate a possible need for even stronger reduction of hot star mass-loss rates, provided that P V is a dominant ionization stage of phosphorus at least in some hot stars.
Influence of XUV radiation on Pv ionization fraction in hot star winds
For phosphorus we employed data described by Pauldrach et al. (2001).
Influence of XUV radiation on Pv ionization fraction in hot star winds
Phosphorus is a trace element and changes of its ionization balance have only negligible effects on the radiation force.
Influence of XUV radiation on Pv ionization fraction in hot star winds
XUV emission and microclumping) that would provide both phosphorus ionization fractions and terminal velocities in agreement with observations.
Influence of XUV radiation on Pv ionization fraction in hot star winds
Puls for providing us atomic data for phosphorus.
Influence of XUV radiation on Pv ionization fraction in hot star winds