One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
(of a compound, especially a metal oxide or hydroxide) able to react both as a base and as an acid.
- ‘The presence of both of these ions makes water an amphoteric substance.’
- ‘Amino acids are amphoteric organic acids that are able to biochemically react with both acids or bases.’
- ‘Proteins can also be amphoteric compounds - a compound that can take on a negative or positive charge depending on the surrounding conditions.’
- ‘Finally, amphoteric detergents have either a positively or negatively charged ion, depending on the pH of the system they are incorporated into.’
- ‘The isolation of morphine from opium takes advantage of the amphoteric nature of the alkaloid, since morphine is a phenolic amine.’
Mid 19th century: from Greek amphoteros, comparative of amphō ‘both’, + -ic.
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