Definition of calomel in English:



mass noun
  • Mercurous chloride, a white powder formerly used as a purgative.

    Chemical formula: Hg₂Cl₂

    • ‘High levels of arsenic were found in his body, leading to calls for an exhumation from Les Invalides in Paris to ascertain whether arsenic poisoning caused by an overdose of the laxative calomel caused his death.’
    • ‘Civil War surgeons began treatment with mild purgatives, such as castor oil, extract of senna, or small doses of calomel.’
    • ‘Surgeons relied on strong mercury purgatives, such as calomel or ‘blue pill’.’
    • ‘Carl Staszak found a large boulder with a good exposure of the ore suite-cinnabar, native mercury, calomel, and some yellow mercury oxychlorides.’
    • ‘It includes the famous Livingstone Rousers - the combination of purgatives including calomel, quinine, rhubarb, essence of jalop and opium - which Livingstone found effective in treating his bouts of malaria.’
    • ‘Doctors resorted to medications that purged the poison from the body - mercury laxatives, calomel, and emetics such as ipecacuanha.’
    • ‘She's not reacting well to the calomel I gave her yesterday.’
    • ‘He felt inside as if he had been taking calomel.’
    • ‘Rush's strategy with serious fevers was to purge with powerful doses of calomel and jalap, followed by bleeding until the patient fainted.’
    • ‘The bowels were cleaned with calomel or blue-pill, which causes gastric irritation, vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea.’
    • ‘Reports of mercury poisoning from beauty creams containing calomel, or mercurous chloride, also surface regularly.’
    • ‘During the mid-19th century, opium and opium related-drugs were very widely available and commonly used, as well as a dangerous drug based on mercury called calomel.’
    • ‘The places cinnabar and calomel can be mined in the world are as follows.’
    • ‘They had forced down her throat the gobs of chalky calomel mixed with laudanum prescribed by the head-shaking doctor until her gums bled.’
    • ‘Some were truly dangerous, like calomel, a mercury-based laxative that may have hastened George Washington's death from the cold he famously caught while riding on a rainy night.’


Late 17th century: modern Latin, perhaps from Greek kalos ‘beautiful’ + melas ‘black’ (perhaps because it was originally obtained from a black mixture of mercury and mercuric chloride).