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asbestos

[as-bes-tuh s, az-] /æsˈbɛs təs, æz-/
noun
1.
Mineralogy. a fibrous mineral, either amphibole or chrysotile, formerly used for making incombustible or fireproof articles.
2.
a fabric woven from asbestos fibers, formerly used for theater curtains, firefighters' gloves, etc.
3.
Theater. a fireproof curtain.
Also, asbestus.
Origin
1350-1400
1350-1400; < Latin < Greek: literally, unquenched, equivalent to a- a-6 + sbestós (sbes- variant stem of sbennýnai to quench + -tos past participle suffix); replacing Middle English asbeston, albeston < Middle French < Latin
Related forms
asbestine
[as-bes-tin, az-] /æsˈbɛs tɪn, æz-/ (Show IPA),
asbestous, adjective
asbestoid, asbestoidal, adjective
nonasbestine, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for asbestous

asbestos

/æsˈbɛstɒs; -təs/
noun
1.
  1. any of the fibrous amphibole and serpentine minerals, esp chrysotile and tremolite, that are incombustible and resistant to chemicals. It was formerly widely used in the form of fabric or board as a heat-resistant structural material
  2. (as modifier): asbestos matting
Derived Forms
asbestine, adjective
Word Origin
C14 (originally applied to a mythical stone the heat of which could not be extinguished): via Latin from Greek: from asbestos inextinguishable, from a-1 + sbennunai to extinguish
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for asbestous

asbestos

n.

1650s, earlier albeston, abestus (c.1100), name of a fabulous stone, which, set afire, could not be extinguished; from Old French abeste, abestos, from Latin asbestos "quicklime" (which "burns" when cold water is poured on it), from Greek asbestos, literally "inextinguishable," from a- "not" (see a- (3)) + sbestos, verbal adjective from sbennynai "to quench," from PIE root *(s)gwes- "to quench, extinguish" (cf. Lithuanian gestu "to go out," Old Church Slavonic gaso, Hittite kishtari "is being put out").

The Greek word was used by Dioscorides as a noun meaning "quicklime." "Erroneously applied by Pliny to an incombustible fibre, which he believed to be vegetable, but which was really the amiantos of the Greeks" [OED]. Meaning "mineral capable of being woven into incombustible fabric" is from c.1600 in English; earlier this was called amiant (early 15c.), from Latin amiantus, from Greek amiantos, literally "undefiled" (so called because it showed no mark or stain when thrown into fire). Supposed in the Middle Ages to be salamanders' wool. Prester John, the Emperor of India, and Pope Alexander III were said to have had robes or tunics made of it.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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asbestous in Medicine

asbestos as·bes·tos or as·bes·tus (ās-běs'təs, āz-)
n.
Either of two incombustible, chemical-resistant, fibrous mineral forms of impure magnesium silicate, used for fireproofing, electrical insulation, brake linings, and chemical filters. adj.
Of, made of, or containing one or the other of these two mineral forms.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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asbestous in Science
asbestos
  (ās-běs'təs)   
Any of several fibrous mineral forms of magnesium silicate. Asbestos is resistant to heat, flames, and chemical action. Some forms have been shown to cause lung diseases. For this reason, asbestos is no longer used to make insulation, fireproofing material, and brake linings.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Article for asbestous

Asbestos

town, Estrie region, southern Quebec province, Canada. Asbestos lies near the Southwest Nicolet River, 95 miles (153 km) southwest of Quebec city. Its economy traditionally depended almost entirely on asbestos mining and the manufacture of asbestos products. One of the mines-the Jeffrey open-pit mine-is one of the largest asbestos mines in the world. Electrical equipment and wood products are manufactured. Inc. village, 1899; town, 1937. Pop. (2006) 6,819.

Learn more about Asbestos with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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