Definition of bismuth in English:



  • 1[mass noun] The chemical element of atomic number 83, a brittle reddish-tinged grey metal.

    • ‘Along the way, these disintegration series produce radioactive isotopes of protactinium, thorium, actinium, radium, francium, radon, astatine, polonium, bismuth, lead, thallium and mercury.’
    • ‘Kyrgyzstan has deposits of gold, coal, bismuth, mercury, antimony, tungsten, and copper.’
    • ‘The low-melting-point metals such as bismuth, lead, tin, and cadmium are added to aluminum to make free-machining alloys.’
    • ‘These include lead, aluminium, arsenic, mercury, cadmium, gold, bismuth, antimony, and beryllium.’
    • ‘This area proper is a prominent Chinese mining district known as the Xianghualing polymetallic ore field, and it consists of numerous deposits of tin, tungsten, molybdenum, bismuth, copper, lead, and zinc.’
    1. 1.1A compound of bismuth used medicinally.
      • ‘Helidac is another medicine that combines bismuth and two antibiotics.’
      • ‘Gastritis, duodenal and gastric ulcers may be infectious diseases treatable by antibiotics and by the 100-year-old medicine bismuth.’
      • ‘Another medicine that coats the stomach is called bismuth.’
      • ‘I can treat syphilis with bismuth and arsenic but penicillin is so much more effective.’
      • ‘In 1867 a Dr Spencer was acquitted of manslaughter after a medication error in which strychnine was dispensed to a patient instead of bismuth.’


Mid 17th century: from modern Latin bisemutum, Latinization of German Wismut, of unknown origin.