Definition of quicksilver in US English:

quicksilver

noun

  • 1The liquid metal mercury.

    • ‘Quacks or quack salvers are named from quicksilver ointment peddlers who treated syphilis in the 16th century.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    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 Used in similes and metaphors to describe something that moves or changes very quickly, or that is difficult to hold or contain.
      ‘his mood changed like quicksilver’
      • ‘Even if he danced at his best, he could not display the same quicksilver in jumps and polished tours, and his presence was less compelling and majestic.’
      • ‘The dancing has to match the play's quicksilver banter, step for step, with skill and style.’
      • ‘Instead, more interest is shown in offshore locales like Bermuda, Ireland, Switzerland or Hong Kong, where governments work hard to make themselves attractive to quicksilver capital.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Occasionally Hautzinger drops to muted valve clicks and Derek riffs with him, as on the quicksilver interplay of ‘The Vietnamese Driver’.’
      • ‘The staff are pure class, the martini's pure quicksilver - immaculate.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The music of Chopin is like quicksilver to the ear; Beethoven is moonlight and butterflies for the soul.’
      • ‘But he is an immensely gifted comic, with a quicksilver imagination which is like a video player permanently jammed in fast-forward.’
      • ‘Those environmentally-conscious Australians have extracted the chlorine from this quicksilver Olympic pool, so one of the most drug - scarred sports has even less chance of washing itself clean.’
      • ‘They view political power as a quicksilver that is always everywhere at once in society, and therefore nowhere in particular.’
      • ‘His enthusiasm was as legendary as his quicksilver movement from one scientific interest to another.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And then, like quicksilver, the New York Times editor who vowed to stay was gone.’
      • ‘Her quicksilver changes of intent, complex multiple qualities, polyrhythms, and opposing body parts warred with Anderson's weeping strings to create a moving picture of grief.’
      • ‘More impressive still is his quicksilver dexterity in following the ever-changing contours of Sibelius' form.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘What she made present to the audience was a quicksilver mind as well as a radiant body.’
      • ‘Only the lizards seemed charmed by the sun, sliding like quicksilver among the crannies in the walls.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The mind goes like quicksilver to the simple solution to a case and it would have seemed to me that the issue in this case is a very simple one.’
      • ‘But he has struggled to live up to that quicksilver performance and has made only limited appearances in the first team squad.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And yet one reason that Picasso became an emblematic artist was that his chaotic inner life was a kind of cultural quicksilver, spilling outward to reflect larger social themes.’
      • ‘Much depends on the form of Ajax's quicksilver striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, so Swedes will hope that he actually makes it to Portugal.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The piano bench remains unoccupied as the instrument's keys appear to be struck by the quicksilver fingers of four absent hands - perhaps those of Isenstein and her sidekick.’
      • ‘Yao Wei - a new ensemble member from Shanghai - entered like a quicksilver breeze, tenuously anchored to earth by beautifully arched feet.’
      • ‘Although Merlis' prose remains as fluid as quicksilver, the narrative thrust progressively dwindles as Joel's quixotic journey nears its end.’
      • ‘Money was like quicksilver - hard to get a hold of and harder yet to keep in hand.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In 1972, he gave a dazzling, quicksilver performance as an English aristocrat who believes himself to be the Messiah in The Ruling Class.’
      • ‘If one ventures to wonder whether Haitink has the quicksilver mind necessary for Mozart, it is only because his Verdi and Wagner were superlative.’
      • ‘Tex Avery had wit, quicksilver charm, and near-boundless inventive genius.’
      • ‘Ed Blackwell plays it straight for the most part, with only occasional flashes of the quicksilver rhythmic trickery he excelled at.’
      • ‘Drop your guard for a moment, and your hard-won gains slip like quicksilver from your grasp, leaving a muscle group to lag behind others or your rock-hard density to melt.’
      • ‘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.’
      changeable, changing, variable, varying, inconstant, inconsistent, ever-changing, erratic, unstable, unsteady, shifting, fluid, undependable, unreliable, uncertain, unpredictable, mercurial, quicksilver, kaleidoscopic, chameleon-like
      View synonyms

Pronunciation

quicksilver

/ˈkwɪkˌsɪlvər//ˈkwikˌsilvər/