Share this entry

chemical Syllabification: chem·i·cal
Pronunciation: /ˈkemək(ə)l/
(abbreviation: chemical)

Definition of chemical in English:


1Of or relating to chemistry or the interactions of substances as studied in chemistry: the chemical composition of the atmosphere
More example sentences
  • The third atom can detach from the ozone molecule and reattach to molecules of other substances, changing their chemical composition.
  • In its simplest terms, a chemical standard is a substance for which the exact composition is known.
  • Elements are materials that cannot be reduced to simpler substances by normal chemical means.
1.1Of or relating to chemicals: chemical treatments for killing fungi
More example sentences
  • Just as the sweet smells of fall fill the air, the residents of the housing complex where I live are notified again - for the fourth time this year - of a chemical lawn treatment.
  • Councillors have been told that fitting water filtering and chemical treatment would cost £223,000 plus annual running costs of £45,220.
  • The hormone treatment is straightforward chemical castration - I am now impotent but it's an advantageous trade-off against a possibly fatal alternative.
1.2Relating to, involving, or denoting the use of poison gas or other chemicals as weapons of war: the manufacture of chemical weapons
More example sentences
  • The war that followed saw them employing chemical weapons and both sides firing ballistic missiles at major cities.
  • Aside from the nuclear variety of WMD, biological and chemical weapons pose serious dangers.
  • In previous wars it took large artillery bombardments to make chemical weapons effective.


Back to top  
A compound or substance that has been purified or prepared, especially artificially: never mix disinfectant with other chemicals controversy arose over treatment of apples with this chemical
More example sentences
  • There is often more than one synthetic route for preparing a desired chemical.
  • Also, the chemical plant was processing ammonium nitrate, a stable chemical that requires a substantial infusion of energy to explode.
  • It stores and processes hundreds of tonnes of toxic and highly inflammable chemicals and compounds.


Late 16th century: from French chimique or modern Latin chimicus, chymicus, from medieval Latin alchymicus, from alchimia (see alchemy).

Words that rhyme with chemical

academical, agrochemical, alchemical, biochemical, petrochemical, photochemical, polemical

Definition of chemical in:

Share this entry


What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources

Word of the day haughty
Pronunciation: ˈhôdē
arrogantly superior and disdainful