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[kal-uh-mel, -muh l] /ˈkæl əˌmɛl, -məl/
noun, Pharmacology
a white, tasteless powder, Hg 2 Cl 2 , used chiefly as a purgative and fungicide.
Also called mercurous chloride.
1670-80; < New Latin calomelas coined from Greek kaló(s) fair + mélas black; allegedly so called because its original preparation involved turning black powder into white Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for calomel
  • The voltage was measured with the indicator electrode described above and a saturated calomel reference electrode on a pH meter.
British Dictionary definitions for calomel


/ˈkæləˌmɛl; -məl/
a colourless tasteless powder consisting chiefly of mercurous chloride, used medicinally, esp as a cathartic. Formula: Hg2Cl2
Word Origin
C17: perhaps from New Latin calomelas (unattested), literally: beautiful black (perhaps so named because it was originally sublimed from a black mixture of mercury and mercuric chloride), from Greek kalos beautiful + melas black
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 calomel

old name for mercurous chloride, 1670s, from French calomel, supposedly (Littré) from Greek kalos "fair" + melas "black;" but as the powder is yellowish-white this seems difficult. "It is perhaps of significance that the salt is blackened by ammonia and alkalis" [Flood].

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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calomel in Medicine

calomel cal·o·mel (kāl'ə-měl', -məl)
A colorless, white or brown tasteless compound used as a purgative and an insecticide. Also called mercurous chloride.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Encyclopedia Article for calomel

mercurous chloride

a very heavy, soft, white, sweetish-tasting halide mineral, formed by the alteration of other mercury minerals, such as cinnabar or amalgams. Calomel is found together with native mercury, cinnabar, calcite, limonite, and clay, at Moschellandsberg, Ger.; Zimapan, Mexico; and Brewster county, Texas, U.S. For detailed physical properties, see halide mineral (table)

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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