plastic

Definitions

General English

General Science

  • adjective able to take on different shapes when under stress and not returning to its original shape when the stress is removed
  • noun an artificial, usually organic, material made from petroleum and used to make many objects

Accounting

Agriculture

  • adjective describing the state of a soil when it is too wet. The soil deforms and does not recover.
  • noun a man-made material, used as a cover to protect young crops. thin films of polythene may be used to cover and warm soil, while black plastic sheeting is used as a form of mulch, and also to cover clamps and bales.

Cars & Driving

  • noun a material that contains as an essential ingredient one or more organic polymeric substances of large molecular weight, is solid in its finished state and, at some stage in its manufacture or processing into finished articles, can be shaped by flow

Construction

  • Possessing plasticity, or possessing adequate plasticity. See also plasticity.

Electronics

  • A solid material which can flow into a given desired shape through the application of heat and/or pressure. A plastic is ordinarily synthetic, and its chief constituent is usually a polymerized organic molecule, such as polyvinyl chloride. The two main classifications for plastics are thermosetting and thermoplastic. Plastics are electrical insulators, and have many applications in electronics, including their use in components such as capacitors, recording media such as floppy disks and optical disks, optical fibers, lenses, IC packages, in frames, as an encapsulant, and for tubing, among many others.

Medical

  • adjective able to change shape or develop in different shapes
  • noun an artificial material made from petroleum, and used to make many objects, including replacement organs

Slang

  • adjective (usually of a person) artificial, shallow, insincere. A hippy buzzword of the 1960s, borrowed from beatnik usage to castigate the conformist and materialist world of the straights as well as the legions of ‘weekend’ hippy imitators. The word submerged during the 1970s, but by 1990 was back in use in British playground slang.

Origin & History of “plastic”

Plastic is etymologically a ‘mouldable’ substance. The word comes via French plastique and Latin plasticus from Greek plastikós ‘fit for moulding’, a derivative of the verb plássein ‘mould’ (source also of English plasma (18th c.) and plaster). Up until the 20th century its main use in English was as an adjective, meaning ‘pliable’. The first record of its use for a ‘synthetic material made from organic compounds’ comes from 1909. The trade-name Plasticine was coined from it in the 1890s.
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