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A graph of pressure as a function of volume, for an adiabatic process


From Ancient Greek ἀδιάβατος ‎(adiábatos, impassible), from ‎(a, not) + διά ‎(diá, through) + βατός ‎(batós, passable), from βαίνειν ‎(baínein, to go). See βαίνω ‎(baínō).



adiabatic ‎(not comparable)

  1. (physics, thermodynamics, of a process) That occurs without gain or loss of heat (and thus with no change in entropy, in the quasistatic approximation).
    • 2006, Thomas Pynchon, Against the Day, Vintage 2007, p. 737:
      Talk of dynamic compression and adiabatic gradients didn't carry as much weight as the certainty of its conscious intent.
  2. (physics, quantum mechanics, of a process) That involves the slow change of the Hamiltonian of a system from its initial value to a final value.
    • 1961, Albert Messiah, Quantum Mechanics, Volume II, page 740,
      In this section we examine the limiting cases when T is very small (sudden change) and very large (adiabatic change).


  • (thermodynamics): diabatic
  • (quantum mechanics): non-adiabatic


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