from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A colorless gas, COCl2, having an odor similar to mown or moldy hay, used as a poison gas and in making resins, plastics, and dyes.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective (Old Chem.) Producing, or produced by, the action of light; -- used specifically to designate a gas also called carbonyl chloride. See carbonyl.
  • noun (Chem.) A reactive chemical substance (COCl2), also called carbonyl choride, used in synthesis of numerous substances. In the First Worlds War it was also used as a poisonous gas in combat.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun inorganic chemistry Alternative form of carbonyl chloride.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a colorless poisonous gas that smells like new-mown hay; used in chemical warfare


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[French phosgène : Greek phōs, light; see phos– + French -gène, -gen.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From phos- + -gen.



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  • There is sometimes a problem in the reporting of accidents that involve phosgene, an extremely reactive chemical reagent that if not properly contained may cause fires and environmental poisoning. A report of an incident in Cornwall this morning set two uses of phosgene in apposition: poison gas and reagent used in the pharmaceutical industry. Such juxtapositions unfortunately invite negative inferences, and people may wonder why a poison gas is being used to manufacture drugs, whereas it would be more useful for their being made aware of the fact that a reagent used in the manufacture of pharmaceuticals can if accidentally released be hazardous, so toxic in fact that it is used as a chemical warfare agent. There is no chemical connection between phosphorus, a non-metallic element, and phosgene, the chemical compound, carbonyl dichloride. The first part of each word, phos-, is merely indicative of the production of light (Greek phos) in certain circumstances.

    December 6, 2011