Definitions

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

  • n. A gas or vapor used especially in chemical warfare to injure, disable, or kill upon inhalation or contact.

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

  • n. a gas that is poisonous to breath or contact; used in chemical warfare

Etymologies

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  • "... the Allied nations were almost wholly dependent on Germany for dyes. When the war (WWI) began, their textile industries were thrown into crisis. Homegrown dyes were in short supply, and many proved streaky and unreliable--which did nothing for Allied morale. But worse was to come, for dominance in the dye trade also allowed Germany to make rapid progress in manufacturing poison gas. ...

    "After Ypres, the Allied armies made every effort to catch up with the Germans, and soon they, too, were producing and deploying poison gas on the battlefields of Europe. But Germany's prewar dominance in the dye industry gave it a head start in the production of the toxic compounds. Dye companies like Bayer, Hoechst, and Badische became the kaiser's war machines, churning out poison gas by the ton. They also produced another kind of war materiel closely related to chemicals used in the dye industry: explosives."

    Amy Butler Greenfield, A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire (New York: Harper Collins, 2005), 239.

    October 6, 2017