El"e*ment (?), n. [F. 'el'ement, L. elementum.]


One of the simplest or essential parts or principles of which anything consists, or upon which the constitution or fundamental powers of anything are based.


One of the ultimate, undecomposable constituents of any kind of matter. Specifically: Chem. A substance which cannot be decomposed into different kinds of matter by any means at present employed; as, the elements of water are oxygen and hydrogen.

⇒ The elements are naturally classified in several families or groups, as the group of the alkaline elements, the halogen group, and the like. They are roughly divided into two great classes, the metals, as sodium, calcium, etc., which form basic compounds, and the nonmetals or metalloids, as oxygen, sulphur, chlorine, which form acid compounds; but the distinction is only relative, and some, as arsenic, tin, aluminium, etc., form both acid and basic compounds. The essential fact regarding every element is its relative atomic weight or equivalent. When the elements are tabulated in the order of their ascending atomic weights, the arrangement constitutes the series of the Periodic law of Mendelejeff. See Periodic law, under Periodic. This Periodic law enables us to predict the qualities of unknown elements. The number of elements known is about seventy-five, but the gaps in the Periodic law indicate the possibility of many more. Many of the elements with which we are familiar, as hydrogen, carbon, iron, gold, etc., have been recognized, by means of spectrum analysis, in the sun and the fixed stars. From certain evidence (as that afforded by the Periodic law, spectrum analysis, etc.) it appears that the chemical elements probably may not be simple bodies, but only very stable compounds of some simpler body or bodies. In formulas, the elements are designated by abbreviations of their names in Latin or New Latin.

The Elements ------------------------------------------------------------ Name |Sym-|Atomic Weight| |bol | O=16 | H=1 | ------------------------------------------------------------ Aluminum | Al | 27.1 | 26.9| Antimony(Stibium) Argon Arsenic Barium Beryllium (see Glucinum) Bismuth Boron Bromine Cadmium Caesium Calcium Carbon Cerium Chlorine Chromium Cobalt Columbium Copper (Cuprum) Erbium Fluorine Gadolinium Gallium Germanium Glucinum <--(now Beryllium)--> Gold Helium Hydrogen Indium Iodine Iridium Iron (Ferrum) Krypton Lanthanum Lead (Plumbum) Lithium Magnesium Manganese Mercury (Hydrargyrum) Molybdenum Neodymium Neon Nickel Niobium (see Columbium) Nirogen Osmium Oxygen Palladium Phosphorus Platinum Potassium (Kalium) Praseodymium Rhodium Rubidium Ruthenium The Elements -- continued ------------------------------------------------------------ Name Samarium Scandium Selenium Silicon Silver (Argentum) Sodium (Natrium) Strontium Sulphur Tantalum Tellurium Thallium Thorium Thulium Tin (Stannum) Titanium Tungsten (Wolframium) Uranium Vanadium Wolfranium (see Tungsten) Xenon Ytterbium Yttrium Zinc Zirconium ------------------------------------------------------------

Several other elements have been announced, as holmium, vesbium, austrium, etc., but their properties, and in some cases their existence, have not yet been definitely established.


One of the ultimate parts which are variously combined in anything; as, letters are the elements of written language; hence, also, a simple portion of that which is complex, as a shaft, lever, wheel, or any simple part in a machine; one of the essential ingredients of any mixture; a constituent part; as, quartz, feldspar, and mica are the elements of granite.

The simplicity which is so large an element in a noble nature was laughed to scorn. Jowett (Thucyd.).

4. (a)

One out of several parts combined in a system of aggregation, when each is of the nature of the whole; as, a single cell is an element of the honeycomb

. (b) Anat.

One of the smallest natural divisions of the organism, as a blood corpuscle, a muscular fiber.

5. Biol.

One of the simplest essential parts, more commonly called cells, of which animal and vegetable organisms, or their tissues and organs, are composed.

6. Math. (a)

An infinitesimal part of anything of the same nature as the entire magnitude considered; as, in a solid an element may be infinitesimal portion between any two planes that are separated and indefinitely small distance

. In the calculus, element is sometimes used as synonymous with differential. (b)

Sometimes a curve, or surface, or volume is considered as described by a moving point, or curve, or surface, the latter being at any instant called an element of the former

. (c)

One of the terms in an algebraic expression.


One of the necessary data or values upon which a system of calculations depends, or general conclusions are based; as, the elements of a planet's orbit.

8. pl.

The simplest or fundamental principles of any system in philosophy, science, or art; rudiments; as, the elements of geometry, or of music.

9. pl.

Any outline or sketch, regarded as containing the fundamental ideas or features of the thing in question; as, the elemental of a plan.


One of the simple substances, as supposed by the ancient philosophers; one of the imaginary principles of matter

. (a) The four elements were, air, earth, water, and fire; whence it is said, water is the proper element of fishes; air is the element of birds. Hence, the state or sphere natural to anything or suited for its existence.

Of elements The grosser feeds the purer: Earth the Sea; Earth and the Sea feed Air; the Air those Fires Ethereal. Milton.

Does not our life consist of the four elements? Shak.

And the complexion of the element [i. e.,the sky or air] In favor's like the work we have in hand, Most bloody, fiery, and most terrible. Shak.

About twelve ounces [of food], with mere element for drink. Cheyne.

They show that they are out of their element. T. Baker.

Esp., the conditions and movements of the air. "The elements be kind to thee." (b) The elements of the alchemists were salt, sulphur, and mercury.

Brande & C.

11. pl.

The whole material composing the world.

The elements shall melt with fervent heat. 2 Peter iii. 10.

12. pl. Eccl.

The bread and wine used in the eucharist or Lord's supper.

Magnetic element, one of the hypothetical elementary portions of which a magnet is regarded as made up.


© Webster 1913.

El"e*ment (?), v. t.


To compound of elements or first principles.

[Obs.] "[Love] being elemented too."



To constitute; to make up with elements.

His very soul was elemented of nothing but sadness. Walton.


© Webster 1913.