Definition of phosphorus in English:

phosphorus

noun

  • The chemical element of atomic number 15, a poisonous, combustible nonmetal which exists in two common allotropic forms, white phosphorus, a yellowish waxy solid which ignites spontaneously in air and glows in the dark, and red phosphorus, a less reactive form used in making matches.

    • ‘Nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulphur and boron have been found to be important in Zambia.’
    • ‘Calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and zinc are the major minerals that make up bones.’
    • ‘The three major nutrients in river water are carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus.’
    • ‘When the mix is placed in soil and watered, it starts a chemical reaction that frees phosphorus that plants can use.’
    • ‘The main pollutants were found to contain nitrogen, phosphorus, oil and copper.’

Usage

See phosphorous

Origin

Late 17th century: from Latin, from Greek phōsphoros, from phōs ‘light’ + -phoros ‘-bringing’.

Pronunciation

phosphorus

/ˈfäsf(ə)rəs//ˈfɑsf(ə)rəs/