Definition of X-ray in English:


(also x-ray, X ray)


  • 1An electromagnetic wave of high energy and very short wavelength, which is able to pass through many materials opaque to light.

    • ‘Rhessi shows us the high-energy radiation emitted by flares: their X-rays and gamma rays.’
    • ‘Fortunately for life on Earth, the atmosphere blocks out harmful, high-energy radiation like X-rays, gamma rays and most ultraviolet rays.’
    • ‘Ionizing radiation, which includes alpha particles, beta particles, gamma rays and X-rays, is radiation that has enough energy to knock an orbital electron off of an atom.’
    • ‘Unlike exposure to external radiation sources such as cosmic rays or X-rays, radioactive nuclides are deposited within the body from food and water.’
    • ‘Heating under controlled conditions or irradiating a mineral using X-rays, neutrons, gamma rays, or other energy sources will effect colour changes in many gems.’
    • ‘Gamma rays and X-rays are two forms of ionizing radiation.’
    • ‘All the light that we see is made from electromagnetic waves, and so are infra-red and ultraviolet light, microwaves, radio waves and X-rays.’
    • ‘It was designed to study X-rays and gamma rays from solar flares.’
    • ‘However, even this atmosphere is still too thin to protect us from the incoming radiation from space, such as ultraviolet light, X-rays and gamma rays, or charged particles such as protons and electrons.’
    • ‘The first magnetar candidates were a family of rare and peculiar galactic sources of gamma and X-rays called soft gamma repeaters (SGRs).’
    • ‘In 1923, the American physicist Arthur Compton investigated the scattering of X-rays (high-frequency electromagnetic radiation) by matter.’
    • ‘Most known radiation dangers occur at the high end of the electromagnetic spectrum, and include X-rays and gamma rays.’
    • ‘The radioactive material generates ionising radiations, which include alpha particles, beta particles, X-rays and gamma rays.’
    • ‘The same electron is just as capable of emitting X-rays, orange light, or radio waves - all that matters is the environment and interactions it finds itself in contact with.’
    • ‘Gamma rays and X-rays lose energy in a variety of ways, but each involves liberating atomic electrons, which then deposit energy through interactions with other electrons.’
    • ‘The jets contain relativistic winds that interact and collide, creating shock waves and emitting high-energy X-rays and gamma rays.’
    • ‘Each color in this image represents a different region of the electromagnetic spectrum, from X-rays to infrared light.’
    • ‘Gamma rays are not particles but a form of electromagnetic radiation, like light, radio waves, and X-rays.’
    • ‘As X-rays pass through your body, different tissues absorb different amounts.’
    • ‘Various kinds of radiation can be used: in order of increasing energy, electrons, X-rays, and gamma rays.’
    • ‘This means that energy that started out in the form of X-rays and gamma rays would now be in the form of microwaves, with wavelengths of around 1 millimeter or so.’
    1. 1.1informal [as modifier]Denoting an apparent or supposed faculty for seeing beyond an outward form.
      ‘you didn't need X-ray eyes to know what was going on’
      • ‘I've also got X-ray vision, Super breath, and can leap four Range Rovers in a single bound.’
      • ‘The real nebula wouldn't look precisely like this, unless you have X-ray vision.’
      • ‘Television doctor Chris Steele has been given the all-clear from cancer after a ‘diagnosis’ from a Russian teenager who claims to have X-ray eyes.’
      • ‘Superman has X-ray vision: walls become permeable, transparent.’
  • 2A photographic or digital image of the internal composition of something, especially a part of the body, produced by X-rays being passed through it and being absorbed to different degrees by different materials.

    • ‘Areas of blockage in the coronary artery show up on the X-ray images, so your doctor knows precisely where to target treatment.’
    • ‘Moreover, Kodak's bets are paying off in health-imaging, where it's leveraging longstanding ties with doctors eager to replace X-rays with digital images.’
    • ‘From MRIs and X-rays to check images, broadcast content, and completed CAD / CAM designs, fixed content is an important class of data.’
    • ‘Having the ability to analyze X-rays and scans digitally from a remote location can be extremely valuable.’
    • ‘I was even afraid to step off a curb because in my mind I kept seeing the image of the X-ray of my fractured fibula as I had seen it in the emergency room.’
    • ‘Often used to identify fractures or tumors that may not be visible on an X-ray.’
    • ‘Since the surgeon can feel with his fingers the position of the bones and the degree of correction, X-rays of the feet are not necessary except in complex cases.’
    • ‘Most often, EMC points to images, e-mail, X-rays and medical records as the types of files meant to find their way onto a Centera.’
    • ‘The York trust is already in the process of upgrading its switchboard to a system that works with computers so, using Internet technology, clinical images such as X-rays can be transmitted as well as phone calls.’
    • ‘For example, most of the medical people at Parkland describe a big hole in the president's head in the rear or right rear, and yet the autopsy photographs and X-rays of the body don't show a big hole over here.’
    • ‘Identification of Uday and Qusay's bodies was confirmed by X-rays, dental records and former Baath party officials who knew them.’
    • ‘Today, the most accurate expression of the Perfect Body is an X-ray.’
    • ‘‘The tumour was clearly visible in the original X-ray but the consultant missed it,’ said Paul.’
    • ‘It involves swallowing liquid, called barium, that shows up on the X-ray as it passes through your digestive system.’
    • ‘This one is a life-size body assembled from old X-rays.’
    • ‘In this procedure, a special contrast material is injected into one of your milk ducts before the X-ray images are taken.’
    • ‘The readers of the X-rays and the retinal photographs had no knowledge of the health of the subjects, that is they were not told about any diseases the subjects had.’
    • ‘It also produces much more detailed images than X-rays because of its ability to separate different types of soft tissues.’
    • ‘Currently, detection of breast cancer relies largely on radiologists reading X-rays known as mammograms.’
    • ‘Presumably a device based on this technology could provide full body X-rays of people at airports, something much more reassuring than a metal detector.’
    radiogram, radiograph, x-ray image
    angiogram, lymphangiogram, mammogram, pyelogram, cholangiogram
    View synonyms
    1. 2.1An act of photographing someone with an X-ray.
      ‘he will have an X-ray today’
      [mass noun] ‘would you send her for X-ray?’
      • ‘The doctor may need to take several tests, including blood tests or X-rays, to diagnose your child.’
      • ‘They will be in the hospital for a minimum of 10 to 14 days, getting IV antibiotics, multiple blood tests, X-rays, and probably a spinal tap.’
      • ‘Often times we suffer from respiratory related diseases like tuberculosis and visit health centres or hospitals for X-rays and ultra sound scanning.’
      • ‘After medical staff took X-rays and scanned its brain, the child was allowed to leave and appeared to be making satisfactory progress.’
      • ‘Jason Maxwell was sent to hospital for X-rays after being carried off just minutes after scoring the equaliser against Barrow.’
      • ‘Mrs Ferriby was transferred to the acute assessment unit where her blood pressure was reassessed, and an X-ray and blood tests were taken.’
      • ‘The doctor will take a history and perform a thorough physical exam, and may order a chest X-ray or blood tests to diagnose the condition.’
      • ‘Your child's doctor may take X-rays or perform blood tests to exclude other conditions that can produce symptoms similar to those of JRA.’
      • ‘She had a chest X-ray taken today which has gone for reporting.’
      • ‘I'm off for some more blood tests and an X-ray now.’
      • ‘You may need X-rays or an ultrasound to check the kidneys and ureters.’
      • ‘Sometimes, the baby will need tests, such as X-rays or blood tests.’
      • ‘Chief Executive Steve Ferres said that Ramsden was having an X-ray on the injury today to assess the extent of the damage.’
      • ‘Surgeon Nigel Heaton examined Best before he was taken for blood tests, X-rays and ultrasounds, and then drained away a build-up of fluid which had become infected.’
      • ‘Another casualty among the debris was Rangers' Chris Burke, who will go for an X-ray today after going over an ankle in the most innocuous circumstances.’
      • ‘If your injuries or condition is more serious, then you might be sent for an X-ray or admitted to the hospital for further treatment.’
      • ‘And I returned to the GP as things seemed to get worse, and she did an X-ray and the radiologist and GP decided I had pneumonia.’
      • ‘Ferguson claims it is too soon to say how badly injured Beckham is and the England skipper will have an X-ray in Manchester today but the player walked unaided on to the plane home.’
      • ‘Agenda for Change could see radiographers, who perform X-rays, ultrasound scans and radiotherapy on cancer patients, working a 37.5-hour week.’
      • ‘You will probably need fresh X-rays and blood tests.’
  • 3A code word representing the letter X, used in radio communication.


  • Photograph or examine with X-rays.

    ‘luggage bound for the hold is X-rayed’
    • ‘Will the costs of compliance - such as X-raying all foodstuffs and providing lists of every Australian worker who has handled a good destined for the US market - deter Australian companies from exporting to the US in the future?’
    • ‘Well, it would mean a lot more than X-raying your handbag, removing your shoes, surrendering your tweezers and letting someone pass a metal detector beneath your oxters.’
    • ‘He was taken by ambulance to Bridgwater hospital where he was X-rayed, and then to Taunton for a more thorough examination.’
    • ‘I was X-rayed, and had lots of nurses and doctors coming in and out of the room.’
    • ‘Apparently the mistake my colleague made was to go through her doctor first; if she'd just gone straight to the hospital, said she'd fallen and said she was in considerable pain etc they would have X-rayed her on the day.’
    • ‘The body is X-rayed from many angles, and the X-rays are then analyzed by a computer.’
    • ‘Mrs Parkin's leg was X-rayed but was not broken.’
    • ‘Mr Lawrence said: ‘When they X-rayed him they saw the pellet and realised he had been shot.’’
    • ‘He was X-rayed at another hospital and the condition was diagnosed as ankylosing spondylitis.’
    • ‘He said he was then sent to Ward 39 at around 5.30 pm, examined and X-rayed.’
    • ‘At the hospital they X-rayed me and the doctor said my collarbone was broken.’
    • ‘Casualties are X-rayed to pinpoint the location of coins and some require surgery.’
    • ‘They X-rayed me for 50 minutes when I got to hospital, but there were no fractures.’
    • ‘Airport Security Report Indianapolis International Airport: A TSA security screener saw a pair of scissors in a bag that was being X-rayed.’
    • ‘My job involves transporting patients from the hospital wards to the radiology department, where they are X-rayed, scanned or receive surgical treatment under radiological observation.’
    • ‘The physicists had X-rayed the box, looked for magnets, weighed the box to within one micron and analysed the chemical composition of the matches.’
    • ‘If arthritis of the neck is suspected, your neck may be X-rayed.’
    • ‘Any part of the body can be X-rayed for information, and they are particularly useful in looking at injuries or changes in bones.’
    • ‘Doctors who X-rayed his foot at Broomfield Hospital later found the wheel had caused a painful compound fracture.’
    • ‘For dental X-rays, the dentist or dental hygienist places a small piece of film in your mouth, behind the section of teeth being X-rayed.’


Translation of German X-Strahlen (plural), from X- (because, when discovered in 1895, the nature of the rays was unknown) + Strahl ray.