mercurial

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

From Anglo-Norman / Old French mercurial, and their source, Latin mercurialis, from Mercurius (Mercury).

Pronunciation[edit]

  • (UK) IPA(key): /məːˈkjʊəɹɪəl/
  • (US) IPA(key): /mɝˈkjʊriəl/, /mɝˈkjɔriəl/

Noun[edit]

mercurial (plural mercurials)

  1. (obsolete) Any of the plants known as mercury. [13th-17th c.]
  2. (astrology) Someone born under the influence of Mercury. [from 16th c.]
  3. (now historical) A preparation of mercury, especially as a treatment for syphilis. [from 17th c.]

Adjective[edit]

mercurial (comparative more mercurial, superlative most mercurial)

  1. (often capitalized, see Mercurial) Pertaining to the planet Mercury. [from 14th c.]
  2. (often capitalized, see Mercurial) Pertaining to the Roman god Mercury, the god of trade; hence, money-making; crafty.. [from 15th c.]
    • J. Q. Adams
      the mercurial wand of commerce
  3. (astrology) Born under the influence of the planet Mercury, and having such characteristics. [from 16th c.]
  4. Of, or pertaining to the element mercury; containing mercury; caused by the action of mercury or quicksilver. [from 16th c.]
  5. Having a volatile or lively character; quick-witted, changeable, animated. [from 17th c.]
    • 1723, Charles Walker, Memoirs of Sally Salisbury, I:
      From the natural Mercurial Briskness of her Temper, a sedentary Life had ever been her Aversion [...].

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