Definition of quicksilver in English:



  • 1[mass noun] The liquid metal mercury.

    • ‘California exported nearly all its silver to Asian markets, as well as much of its quicksilver [mercury], which was a key new element in improving the extraction of precious metals from ore.’
    • ‘Mercury has long been known also by the name quicksilver, because it is a silver liquid.’
    • ‘It is the secret, the mystery of quicksilver, that a metal of such enormous density can yet remain liquid.’
    • ‘Kepler noted with satisfaction that it would be appropriate to correlate the sun with gold, the density of which is greater than that of quicksilver.’
    • ‘By increasing the amount of mercury allowed in coal-fired power plant emissions, he will ensure that every fish in every Great Lake contains unsafe levels of quicksilver.’
    • ‘Quacks or quack salvers are named from quicksilver ointment peddlers who treated syphilis in the 16th century.’
    volatile, capricious, temperamental, excitable, fickle, changeable, unpredictable, variable, protean, mutable, erratic, quicksilver, inconstant, inconsistent, unstable, unsteady, fluctuating, ever-changing, kaleidoscopic, fluid, wavering, vacillating, moody, flighty, wayward, whimsical, giddy, impulsive
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    1. 1.1[as modifier]Moving or changing rapidly and unpredictably.
      ‘his quicksilver wit’
      • ‘More impressive still is his quicksilver dexterity in following the ever-changing contours of Sibelius' form.’
      • ‘In 1972, he gave a dazzling, quicksilver performance as an English aristocrat who believes himself to be the Messiah in The Ruling Class.’
      • ‘The dancing has to match the play's quicksilver banter, step for step, with skill and style.’
      • ‘But she's not just an exceptional actress; her dry Aussie wit is a godsend in an industry choked with airheads, and her quicksilver intelligence animates her luminous beauty.’
      • ‘There's a lightness of touch and a melodic freedom that's fairly jazzy, especially in guitarist Jay Berliner's quicksilver leads, an echo of his work with Mingus on The Black Saint and The Sinner Lady.’
      • ‘But he is an immensely gifted comic, with a quicksilver imagination which is like a video player permanently jammed in fast-forward.’
      • ‘Lloyd's tenor is luxuriously rich throughout; sticking mostly to the upper register of the horn and peppering his phrases with sweet quicksilver flurries, he makes a beautiful noise.’
      • ‘Occasionally Hautzinger drops to muted valve clicks and Derek riffs with him, as on the quicksilver interplay of ‘The Vietnamese Driver’.’
      • ‘Indeed, it was only neat work from Sauzee in the 20th minute which brought to an end a quicksilver run from the youngster as he glided past three Hibs men towards goal.’
      • ‘But he has struggled to live up to that quicksilver performance and has made only limited appearances in the first team squad.’
      • ‘What is clear, however, is that his latest, slim book is written in the same spirit as his partly fabricated biography of Thomas Griffiths Wanewright, one of the most quicksilver characters in the circle around John Keats.’
      • ‘And another quicksilver attack saw Carlton cross for the rapidly arriving Twiss - but Uberschar deflected his shot for a corner.’
      • ‘The achievement is palpable: the quicksilver movements of fish, the movement of water and the play of light through it, the interior of a whale's mouth.’
      • ‘Sinead Cusack also brings the right qualities to Cleopatra: quicksilver energy, boundless curiosity and emotional volatility.’
      • ‘But Hall's business was in the quicksilver world of ideas.’
      • ‘Tex Avery had wit, quicksilver charm, and near-boundless inventive genius.’
      • ‘There's another way that planning has changed in this quicksilver world of business: it has become a more continuous process rather than an annual or a semiannual review.’
      • ‘Mears, a quicksilver defender, made his debut as a replacement in the win over Nottingham Forest at Maine Road and will be another under Keegan's gaze.’
      • ‘Robert Martin whipped in a shot from the right wing and quicksilver forward Fabio Cretaro, who darted with menace, diverted the sliothar past Mayo's net-minder Michael Walsh.’
      • ‘If one ventures to wonder whether Haitink has the quicksilver mind necessary for Mozart, it is only because his Verdi and Wagner were superlative.’
      changeable, changing, variable, varying, inconstant, inconsistent, ever-changing, erratic, unstable, unsteady, shifting, fluid, undependable, unreliable, uncertain, unpredictable, mercurial, quicksilver, kaleidoscopic, chameleon-like
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