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From electric +‎ -ity.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˌiːlɛkˈtɹɪsɪti/, /ɪˌlɛkˈtɹɪsɪti/, /ˌɛlɪkˈtɹɪsɪti/
  • (US) IPA(key): /əˌlɛkˈtɹɪsɪti/, /iˌlɛkˈtɹɪsɪti/, /ɪˌlɛkˈt͡ʃɹɪsɪti/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɪsɪti


electricity (usually uncountable, plural electricities)

  1. Originally, a property of amber and certain other nonconducting substances to attract lightweight material when rubbed, or the cause of this property; now understood to be a phenomenon caused by the distribution and movement of charged subatomic particles and their interaction with the electromagnetic field. [from 17th c.]
    • 1646, Sir Thomas Browne, Pseudodoxia Epidemica, 4th edition, page 56:
      Again, the concretion of Ice will not endure a dry attrition without liquation ; for if it be rubbed long with a cloth, it melteth. But Cryſtal will calefie unto electricity ; that is, a power to attract ſtraws or light bodies, and convert the needle freely placed.
    • 1747 July 28, Benjamin Franklin, letter to Peter Collinson, collected in New Experiments and Observations on Electricity, part I, 3rd edition, London: D. Henry and R. Cape, published 1760, page 8:
      For, reſtoring the equilibrium in the bottle does not at all affect the Electricity in the man thro’ whom the fire paſſes ; that Electricity is neither increaſed nor diminiſhed.
    • 1837, William Leithead, Electricity, page 5:
      Attraction, then, is the first phenomenon that arrests our attention, and it is one that is constantly attendant on excitation. It is therefore considered a sure indicator of the presence of electricity in an active state, and forms the basis of all its tests.
    • 1873, James Clerk Maxwell, A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism:
      We may express all these results in a concise and consistent manner by describing an electrified body as charged with a certain quantity of electricity, which we may denote by e.
    • 2011 March 29, Jon Henley, The Guardian:
      How does it work, though? It's based on the observation made some 200 years ago that electricity can change the shape of flames.
  2. (physics) The study of electrical phenomena; the branch of science dealing with such phenomena. [from 18th c.]
  3. A feeling of excitement; a thrill. [from 18th c.]
    Opening night for the new production had an electricity unlike other openings.
    • 2016 September 28, Tom English, “Celtic 3–3 Manchester City”, in BBC Sport[1]:
      The electricity was crackling around Celtic Park even before a ball had been kicked, the home crowd unleashing noise and colour and every ounce of passion in their bodies on the visitors.
  4. Electric power/energy as used in homes etc., supplied by power stations or generators. [from 19th c.]
    • 2000, James Meek, Home-made answer to generating electricity harks back to the past The Guardian[2]:
      Householders could one day be producing as much electricity as all the country's nuclear power stations combined, thanks to the revolutionary application of a device developed in the early 19th century.
    • 2013 July 20, “Out of the gloom”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8845:
      [Rural solar plant] schemes are of little help to industry or other heavy users of electricity. Nor is solar power yet as cheap as the grid. For all that, the rapid arrival of electric light to Indian villages is long overdue. When the national grid suffers its next huge outage, as it did in July 2012 when hundreds of millions were left in the dark, look for specks of light in the villages.

Derived terms[edit]


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