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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. 2015.
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Examples from the web 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

1777, "phosphorescent," from phosphorus + -ous. The chemical sense (1794) is immediately from French phosphoreux.

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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