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[bair-ee-uh m, bar-] /ˈbɛər i əm, ˈbær-/
noun, Chemistry
a whitish, malleable, active, divalent, metallic element, occurring in combination chiefly as barite or as witherite. Symbol: Ba; atomic weight: 137.34; atomic number: 56; specific gravity: 3.5 at 20°C.
Origin of barium
1800-10; bar(ytes) + -ium Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for barium
  • The organism has no particular interest in strontium: it mostly collects barium.
  • Nine of the clown fish and eight of the butterfly fish that were collected carried the barium isotope.
  • One of these is barium oxide, something with a half-life and, aluminum oxide as well.
  • Later that same year, after bombarding uranium with neutrons, they found barium.
  • barium produces brain swelling after a short exposure.
  • For the test, barium sulfate is inserted into the rectum using a small, flexible tube.
  • She bathes in her well water, which is contaminated with barium.
  • The researchers used a relatively new magnetic medium, called barium ferrite.
  • Beneath a bowling ball's urethane shell lies a dense core of polyester infused with calcium carbonate or barium sulfate.
  • Impure barium sulfide phosphoresces after exposure to the light.
British Dictionary definitions for barium


a soft silvery-white metallic element of the alkaline earth group. It is used in bearing alloys and compounds are used as pigments. Symbol: Ba; atomic no: 56; atomic wt: 137.327; valency: 2; relative density: 3.5; melting pt: 729°C; boiling pt: 1805°C
Word Origin
C19: from bar(yta) + -ium
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 barium

1808, coined in Modern Latin by its discoverer, English chemist Sir Humphrey Davy (1778-1829), because it was present in the mineral barytes "heavy spar" (barium sulphate), so named by Lavoisier from Greek barys "heavy" (see grave (adj.)). The metal is actually relatively light.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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barium in Medicine

barium bar·i·um (bâr'ē-əm, bār'-)
Symbol Ba
A soft alkaline-earth metal used to deoxidize copper. Atomic number 56; atomic weight 137.33; melting point 727°C; boiling point 1,897°C; specific gravity 3.50; valence 2.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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barium in Science
Symbol Ba
A soft, silvery-white metallic element of the alkaline-earth group. It occurs only in combination with other elements, especially in barite. Barium compounds are used in x-raying the digestive system and in making fireworks and white pigments. Atomic number 56; atomic weight 137.33; melting point 725°C; boiling point 1,140°C; specific gravity 3.50; valence 2. See Periodic Table.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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