One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
with object To combine or impregnate with phosphorus.
Late 18th century; earliest use found in William Nicholson (1753–1815), chemist and inventor. From phosphorus + -ate<br>mid 19th century; earliest use found in Benjamin Smart (d. 1872), elocutionist and grammarian. From phosphorus + -ate. Compare French phosphorer.
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