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[pol-uh-mer] /ˈpɒl ə mər/
noun, Chemistry
a compound of high molecular weight derived either by the addition of many smaller molecules, as polyethylene, or by the condensation of many smaller molecules with the elimination of water, alcohol, or the like, as nylon.
a compound formed from two or more polymeric compounds.
a product of polymerization.
Compare monomer.
1865-70; < Greek polymerḗs having many parts. See poly-, -mer
Related forms
superpolymer, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for polymers
  • The acrylic polymers that make up the rink are specially designed to release the chemical lubricant in the presence of friction.
  • Up to a third of this material was later identified as synthetic polymers used in plastics.
  • It's a formfitting space suit made of elastic polymers that improve mobility.
  • It is made of alternating layers of two polymers, one of which is positively charged, and the other negatively so.
  • Plastic circuitry promises as large a market as light-emitting polymers, but the technology is taking longer to commercialise.
  • polymers are formed when small molecules join together to form long chains.
  • It is difficult to recycle, mainly because of the problem of separating the different polymers.
  • Coatings made of certain polymers do not trigger the immune system.
  • Instead of proteins, he and his team used two synthetic polymers.
  • Simple versions of such devices employ a set of sensors made of special polymers linked to electrodes.
British Dictionary definitions for polymers


a naturally occurring or synthetic compound, such as starch or Perspex, that has large molecules made up of many relatively simple repeated units Compare copolymer, oligomer
Derived Forms
polymerism (pəˈlɪməˌrɪzəm; ˈpɒlɪmə-) noun
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 polymers



a substance built from a large number of simple molecules of the same kind, 1855, probably from German Polymere (Berzelius, 1830), from Greek polymeres "having many parts," from polys "many" (see poly-) + meros "part" (see merit (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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polymers in Medicine

polymer pol·y·mer (pŏl'ə-mər)
Any of numerous compounds of usually high molecular weight and consisting of up to millions of repeated linked units, each a relatively light and simple molecule.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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polymers in Science
Any of various chemical compounds made of smaller, identical molecules (called monomers) linked together. Some polymers, like cellulose, occur naturally, while others, like nylon, are artificial. Polymers have extremely high molecular weights, make up many of the tissues of organisms, and have extremely varied and versatile uses in industry, such as in making plastics, concrete, glass, and rubber. ◇ The process by which molecules are linked together to form polymers is called polymerization (pŏl'ə-lĭm'ər-ĭ-zā'shən).
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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polymers in Culture
polymer [(pol-uh-muhr)]

In chemistry, a long molecule made up of a chain of smaller, simpler molecules.

Note: Proteins and many carbohydrates, such as cellulose, are polymers. Plastics are also polymers.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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