Pronunciation: (mûr'kyu-rē), [key]
1. Chem.a heavy, silver-white, highly toxic metallic element, the only one that is liquid at room temperature; quicksilver: used in barometers, thermometers, pesticides, pharmaceutical preparations, reflecting surfaces of mirrors, and dental fillings, in certain switches, lamps, and other electric apparatus, and as a laboratory catalyst. Symbol: Hg; at. wt.: 200.59; at. no.: 80; sp. gr.: 13.546 at 20°C; freezing point: -38.9°C; boiling point: 357°C.
2. Pharm.this metal as used in medicine, in the form of various organic and inorganic compounds, usually for skin infections.
3. (cap.) the ancient Roman god who served as messenger of the gods and was also the god of commerce, thievery, eloquence, and science, identified with the Greek god Hermes.
4. (cap.) Astron.the planet nearest the sun, having a diameter of 3031 mi. (4878 km), a mean distance from the sun of 36 million mi. (57.9 million km), and a period of revolution of 87.96 days, and having no satellites: the smallest planet in the solar system. See table under planet.
5. a messenger, esp. a carrier of news.
6. any plant belonging to the genus Mercurialis, of the spurge family, esp. the poisonous, weedy M. perennis of Europe.
8. (cap.) Aerospace.one of a series of U.S. spacecraft, carrying one astronaut, that achieved the first U.S. suborbital and orbital manned spaceflights.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.