• aerosol •
er-rê-sawl • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: Ultramicroscopic solid or liquid particles suspended in a propellant gas or liquid. 2. A container of an aerosolized substance.
Notes: Smoke, fog, and other mists are aerosols. Certain aerosol propellant gases, chlorofluorocarbon, were banned in 1978 by the Clean Air Act because of their destruction of the ozone layer that protects us from the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Aerosol comes with an adjective, aerosoled "dispersed as an aerosol" and a verb, aerosolize.
In Play: Whenever we sing, sneeze, cough, even speak, we send out an invisible aerosol, visible only outside on wintry days: "Most people are wearing masks during the pandemic to protect ourselves and others from aerosols containing SARS-CoV-2 viruses." This word can also refer to cans with pressurized aerosols; "Art Decco trained as an artist with aerosols of spray paint on big city walls."
Word History: Aerosol is combination of aero- "air" + sol, a clipping of solution. Aero- comes from Greek aer "air". Aer comes from an underlying form awer from PIE wer- "to blow, soar", source also of Latin vapor "steam, exhalation, vapor" and vapidus "that has emitted steam or vapor", which English trimmed down to vapid. Solution was borrowed from French solution, inherited from Latin solution(n) "loosening, unfastening". It goes back to a PIE word made up of swe- "oneself" (reflexive pronoun) + leu- "to loosen, pull apart". Swe- ended up in English as self, German selbst, French and Spanish se and Russian svoi—all meaning "oneself". Leu- was converted into lyein "to loosen, slacken" in Greek, Latin luere "to loosen", and English loose and loosen.
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