1. the scientific study of the structure of substances and the way they react with other substances
2. the emotional relationship between people, especially when they are strongly attracted to each other
Origin and usage
The word chemistry has more than one possible origin. It may derive from the medieval Latin word ‘alchimista’, which also gave us alchemy, and refers to the changing of substances to form new compounds; or it may derive from the ancient Egyptian word for Egypt, ‘khem’, referring to blackness and therefore the ‘black art’ of chemistry.
The noun chemistry refers to a field of science that looks at how substances are composed, along with the ways in which they react to one another and the differing properties of each. It can also be used to describe one particular substance in terms of its reactivity, properties and structure. Another scientific definition for chemistry refers to the effect and character of a phenomenon, such as the formation of ice.
Informally, chemistry refers to the reaction which takes place when two people find each other attractive. When an audience is watching a film, they may describe the lead characters as having a good chemistry if their relationship feels believable.
“We are told that people stay in love because of chemistry, or because they remain intrigued with each other, because of many kindnesses, because of luck. But part of it has got to be forgiveness and gratefulness.”
“My eyes are constantly wide open to the extraordinary fact of existence. Not just human existence, but the existence of life and how this breathtakingly powerful process, which is natural selection, has managed to take the very simple facts of physics and chemistry and build them up to redwood trees and humans.”
View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.
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