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First coined 1605, from chemist +‎ -ry. From chemist, chymist, from Latin alchimista, from Arabic اَلْكِيمِيَاء(al-kīmiyāʔ), from article اَل(al-) + Ancient Greek χυμεία (khumeía, art of alloying metals), from χύμα (khúma, fluid), from χυμός (khumós, juice), from χέω (khéō, I pour).


  • enPR: kĕm'ĭstrē, IPA(key): /ˈkɛm.ɪ.stɹi/
  • (file)


chemistry (countable and uncountable, plural chemistries)

  1. (uncountable) The branch of natural science that deals with the composition and constitution of substances and the changes that they undergo as a consequence of alterations in the constitution of their molecules.
  2. (countable) An application of chemical theory and method to a particular substance.
    • 1984, North American Lake Management Society, Lake and Reservoir Management: Proceedings of the Third Annual Conference, page 250:
      The aquatic chemistries of iron and manganese are similar; this “is reflected geologically in their common association in rocks of all kinds” (Bortleson and Lee, 1974).
  3. The chemical properties and reactions of a particular organism, environment etc.
    • 2022 September 29, Carl Zimmer, “A New Approach to Spotting Tumors: Look for Their Microbes”, in The New York Times[1]:
      But some microbes manage to move to new organs to get inside tumors. It’s possible that the particular chemistry inside a tumor, such as its level of oxygen, helps determine which microbes will thrive there.
  4. (informal) The mutual attraction between two people; rapport.
    The on-screen chemistry between the lead actors led many viewers to believe they were a couple in real life.
    The coach attributed their losses to poor team chemistry.

Usage notes[edit]

  • Historical note: This word and its derivatives were formerly spelled chy- or sometimes chi- (i.e., chymistry, chymist, chymical, etc., or chimistry, chimist, chimical, etc.) with pronunciation depending on the spelling.
  • Chymistry is now sometimes used specifically to refer to sixteenth- and seventeenth-century chemistry, when it was not yet fully distinct from alchemy.


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