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[fos-fer-uh s, fos-fawr-uh s, -fohr-] /ˈfɒs fər əs, fɒsˈfɔr əs, -ˈfoʊr-/
adjective, Chemistry
containing trivalent phosphorus.
1770-80; phosphor- + -ous
Related forms
nonphosphorous, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for phosphorous
  • It was about a bacteria that use arsenic in place of phosphorous.
  • The alchemists also discovered some elements, such as phosphorous.
  • These smaller organisms are also stimulated by nitrogen and phosphorous nutrients running off the land.
  • Calcium and phosphorous, two other important minerals in the body, are also monitored closely.
British Dictionary definitions for phosphorous


of or containing phosphorus in the trivalent state
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for phosphorous
1629, "the morning star," from L. Phosphorus "morning star," from Gk. Phosphoros "morning star," lit. "torchbearer," from phos "light" (related to phainein "to show, to bring to light;" see phantasm) + phoros "bearer," from pherein "to carry" (see infer). Meaning "substance or organism that shines of itself" is attested from 1645. As the name of a non-metallic chemical element ["Accidentally obtained from urine in 1669 by Brandt, an alchemist of Hamburg, in the course of his search for the philosophers' stone." OED], it is recorded from 1680.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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phosphorous in Medicine

phosphorous phos·pho·rous (fŏs'fər-əs, fŏs-fôr'əs)
Of, relating to, or containing phosphorus, especially with a valence of 3 or a valence lower than that of a comparable phosphoric compound.

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