Definition of mercurial in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌmərˈkyo͝orēəl/


1(Of a person) subject to sudden or unpredictable changes of mood or mind: his mercurial temperament
More example sentences
  • Nor does she depict adolescence as a period of mental instability, characterized by mercurial moods and impulsive, self-gratifying actions.
  • He grinned briefly in a mercurial change of mood.
  • The mercurial singer-songwriter's mood is as unpredictable as Halifax weather and each night's performance lives and dies on which attitude the capricious star brings to the rink.
volatile, capricious, temperamental, excitable, fickle, changeable, unpredictable, variable, protean, mutable, erratic, quicksilver, inconstant, inconsistent, unstable, unsteady, fluctuating, ever-changing, moody, flighty, wayward, whimsical, impulsive
technical labile
1.1(Of a person) sprightly; lively.
Example sentences
  • ‘You have the most mercurial personality I have ever met,’ he stated.
  • They require complex and varied solutions, involving complicated, multiplex, mercurial people who use a wide variety of approaches.
  • He didn't have the polish and professionalism that would define the CBS era, but he wasn't quite the mercurial genius our lazy memories would have us believe, either.
2Of or containing the element mercury.
Example sentences
  • The mercurial bromide was re-extracted and analyzed by capillary gas chromatography/electron capture detector, using an internal standard for quantification.
  • These mercurial chemicals are never taken lightly.
  • Brownish-black may indicate chronic mercurial poisoning caused by the formation of sulfide of mercury in the tissues.
3 (Mercurial) Of the planet Mercury.
Example sentences
  • As for Venus, the dates of Mercurial transits are spaced by six months: they all fall within a few days of May 8 and November 10.
  • Tejat and Dirah are both located in the left foot of Pollux, so traditionally share the Mercurial / Venus nature.
  • Uranian mind-vibes can sometimes get Mercurial Virgos overwrought and on edge.


(usually mercurials)
A drug or other compound containing mercury.
Example sentences
  • In refractory HF with anasarca, hyperchloremic acidosis was induced to potentiate the effect of intravenous mercurials.
  • None of the subjects had a history of occupational exposure to Hg and mercurials, symptoms resulting from disorders of the digestive system, amalgam fillings, or experienced digestive-system surgery.
  • In rice seedlings, the application of mercurials had an effect on whole plant conductance only when plants were water stressed by the presence of polyethylene glycol, but not in control growth conditions.



Pronunciation: /-ˌkyo͝orēˈalitē/
Example sentences
  • But Bazzana is conscious of dealing with an extraordinary individual, one whose extraordinariness was bound up with his mercuriality and multiplicity.
  • In her final paragraph on the poem, which reveals the rhetorical if not ‘wilful’ quality of her incomprehension, Forrest-Thomson captures this mercuriality, whilst rightly stressing movement ‘upwards’.
  • But their mercuriality is such that, sensed as one would a painter's or a poet's style, the cinematographic quality becomes that of an imperious form overlying assertions and contradictions.


Example sentences
  • Bracketed first lines serve as titles, hovering over their doubles; mercurially reappearing colons frustrate the stability of conventional grammar.
  • And the limelight is repeatedly stolen by John Kazek's gloriously brash Bottom and, best of all, Malcolm Shields's mercurially nimble Puck.
  • Impish arpeggios moved mercurially from darkness to sheer joy in the twinkle of an eye, the entire interpretation capturing the essential scariness of the piece.


Late Middle English (sense 3 of the adjective): from Latin mercurialis 'relating to the god Mercury', from Mercurius 'Mercury'. sense 1 of the adjective dates from the mid 17th century.

Words that rhyme with mercurial

Muriel, seigneurial, tenurial, Uriel

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: mer·cu·ri·al

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