|1.||a. any of a number of chemical elements, such as iron or copper, that are often lustrous ductile solids, have basic oxides, form positive ions, and are good conductors of heat and electricity|
|b. an alloy, such as brass or steel, containing one or more of these elements|
|2.||printing type made of metal|
|3.||the substance of glass in a molten state or as the finished product|
|4.||short for road metal|
|5.||informal short for heavy metal|
|a. the total weight of projectiles that can be shot by a ship's guns at any one time|
|b. the total weight or number of a ship's guns|
|7.||astronomy Also called: heavy element any element heavier than helium|
|8.||heraldry gold or silver|
|9.||(plural) the rails of a railway|
|10.||made of metal|
|—vb , -als, -alling, -alled, -als, -aling, -aled|
|11.||to fit or cover with metal|
|12.||to make or mend (a road) with road metal|
|[C13: from Latin metallum mine, product of a mine, from Greek metallon]|
metal met·al (mět'l)
Any of a category of electropositive elements that usually reflect light, are generally good conductors of heat and electricity, and can be melted or fused, hammered into thin sheets, or drawn into wires. Typical metals form salts with nonmetals, basic oxides with oxygen, and alloys with one another.
An alloy of two or more metallic elements.
An object made of metal.
|metal (mět'l) Pronunciation Key
Our Living Language : Most metallic elements are lustrous or colorful solids that are good conductors of heat and electricity, and readily form ionic bonds with other elements. Many of their properties are due to the fact that their outermost electrons, called valence electrons, are not tightly bound to the nucleus. For instance, most metals form ionic bonds easily because they readily give up valence electrons to other atoms, thereby becoming positive ions (cations). The electrical conductivity of metals also stems from the relative freedom of valence electrons. In a substance composed of metals, the atoms are in a virtual "sea" of valence electrons that readily jump from atom to atom in the presence of an electric potential, creating electric current. With the exception of hydrogen, which behaves like a metal only at very high pressures, the elements that appear in the left-hand column of the periodic table are called alkali metals. Alkali metals, such as sodium and potassium, have only one electron in their outermost shell, and are chemically very reactive. (Hydrogen is exceptional in that, although it is highly reactive, its other metallic properties are manifest only at very high pressures.) Metals farther toward the right side of the Periodic Table, such as tin and lead, have more electrons in their outermost shell, and are not as reactive. The somewhat reactive elements that fall between the two extremes are the transition elements, such as iron, copper, tungsten, and silver. In most atoms, inner electron shells must be maximally occupied by electrons before an outer shell will accept electrons, but many transition elements have electron gaps in the shell just inside the valence shell. This configuration leads to a wide variety of available energy levels for electrons to move about in, so in the presence of electromagnetic radiation such as light, a variety of frequencies are readily emitted or absorbed. Thus transition metals tend to be very colorful, and each contributes different colors to different compounds.