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Types of phials used in laboratories.

The noun is derived partly:[1]

The verb is derived from the noun.

Doublet of vial.



phial (plural phials)

  1. (dated) A bottle or other vessel for containing a liquid; originally any such vessel, especially one for holding a beverage; now (specifically), a small, narrow glass bottle with a cap used to hold liquid chemicals, medicines, etc.
    Synonyms: flasklet, vial
    • 1610, The Second Tome of the Holie Bible, [] (Douay–Rheims Bible), Doway: Lavrence Kellam, [], →OCLC, Amos 6:1 and 6, pages 835–836:
      VVo to you that are rich in Sion, and haue confidence in the mountaine of Samaria: [] That drinke vvine in phials, and are annoynted vvith the beſt oyntment: and they ſuffred nothing vpon the contrition of Ioſeph.
    • 1649, Jer[emy] Taylor, “Discourse XI. Of the Second Additionall Precept of Christ. (Viz.) Of Prayer.”, in The Great Exemplar of Sanctity and Holy Life According to the Christian Institution. [], London: [] R. N. for Francis Ash, [], →OCLC, 2nd part, page 156:
      [U]nite my prayers to the interceſſion of the holy JESUS, [] that my prayers being hallovved by the merits of CHRIST, and being preſented in the phial of the Saints may aſcent thither, vvhere thy glory dvvells, and from vvhence mercy, and eternall benediction deſcends upon thy Church.
      A reference to The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], 1611, →OCLC, Revelation 5:8, column 1: “And when he had taken the booke, the foure Beaſts, and foure and twenty Elders fel down before the Lambe, hauing euery one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of Saints.”
    • 1682, Robert Boyle, “A Continuation of New Experiments Physico-Mechanical, Touching the Spring and Weight of the Air, and Their Effects. The Second Part. []. Iconisme III. How Factitious Air may be Transmitted out of One Receiver into Another.”, in The Works of the Honourable Robert Boyle. [], volume IV, London: [] A[ndrew] Millar, [], published 1744, →OCLC, page 103, column 2:
      AA Is a glaſs phial filled vvith mercury to the ſuperficies DD, or thereabout.
    • 1742, [Edward Young], “Night the First. On Life, Death, and Immortality. []”, in The Complaint: Or, Night-Thoughts on Life, Death, & Immortality, London: [] [Samuel Richardson] for A[ndrew] Millar [], and R[obert] Dodsley [], published 1750, →OCLC, page 7:
      Nor let the Phial of thy Vengeance, pour'd / On this devoted Head, be pour'd in vain.
      A reference to The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], 1611, →OCLC, Revelation 16:1, column 2: “And I heard a great voyce out of the Temple, ſaying to the ſeven Angels, Goe your wayes, and powre out the vials of the wrath of God vpõ the earth.”
    • 1847 October 16, Currer Bell [pseudonym; Charlotte Brontë], chapter V, in Jane Eyre. An Autobiography. [], volume II, London: Smith, Elder, and Co., [], →OCLC, page 127:
      You must open the middle drawer of my toilet-table and take out a little phial and a little glass you will find there,—quick! [] He held out the tiny glass, and I half filled it from the water bottle on the wash-stand. / “That will do:⁠—now wet the lip of the phial.” / I did so: he measured twelve drops of a crimson liquid, and presented it to Mason. / “Drink, Richard: it will give you the heart you lack, for an hour or so.”
    • 1881, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, “‘Retro Me, Sathana!’”, in Ballads and Sonnets, London: Ellis and White, [], →OCLC, page 252:
      Thou still, upon the broad vine-sheltered path, / Mayst wait the turning of the phials of wrath / For certain years, for certain months and days.
      A reference to Revelation 16:1: see the 1742 quotation.
    • 1921 May 20, [Warren Harding], Remarks of the President in Presenting to Madam Curie a Gift of Radium from the American People [], Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, →OCLC, page 4:
      In testimony of the affection of the American people, of their confidence in your [Marie Curie's] scientific work, and of their earnest wish that your genius and energy may receive all encouragement to carry forward your efforts for the advance of science and conquest of disease, I have been commissioned to present to you this little phial of radium.
    • 1923 March, Arthur Conan Doyle, “The Adventure of the Creeping Man”, in The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, London: John Murray, [], published June 1927 (May 1952 printing), →OCLC, page 230:
      He sat musing for a little with the phial in his hand, looking at the clear liquid within.

Usage notes[edit]

The word vial is now more commonly used than phial.


Coordinate terms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]



phial (third-person singular simple present phials, present participle phialling or (US) phialing, simple past and past participle phialled or (US) phialed)

  1. (transitive) To keep or put (something, especially a liquid) in, or as if in, a phial.
    Synonym: vial



  1. ^ phial, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, July 2023; “phial, n.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.
  2. ^ fīōle, n.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.

Further reading[edit]


Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of fiole