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1899, as a chemical term, short for gelatin and perhaps influenced by jell. The invention of this word is credited to Scottish chemist Thomas Graham (1805-1869). Hair-styling sense is from 1958. The verb meaning "to become a gel" is attested by 1902; figurative sense is from 1958. Related: Gelled; gelling.
A colloid in which the disperse phase combines with the dispersion medium to produce a semisolid material. v. gelled, gel·ling, gels
To become a gel.
To convert a sol into a gel.
[second sense perhaps fr the notion of productively sitting still as a gelatin pudding does]
coherent mass consisting of a liquid in which particles too small to be seen in an ordinary optical microscope are either dispersed or arranged in a fine network throughout the mass. A gel may be notably elastic and jellylike (as gelatin or fruit jelly), or quite solid and rigid (as silica gel, a material that looks like coarse white sand and is used as a dehumidifier). Gels are colloids (aggregates of fine particles, as described above, dispersed in a continuous medium) in which the liquid medium has become viscous enough to behave more or less as a solid. Contraction of a gel, causing separation of liquid from it, is called syneresis. Compare sol