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phlogiston theory

phlogiston theory (flōjĬs´tŏn), hypothesis regarding combustion. The theory, advanced by J. J. Becher late in the 17th cent. and extended and popularized by G. E. Stahl, postulates that in all flammable materials there is present phlogiston, a substance without color, odor, taste, or weight that is given off in burning. "Phlogisticated" substances are those that contain phlogiston and, on being burned, are "dephlogisticated." The ash of the burned material is held to be the true material. The theory received strong and wide support throughout a large part of the 18th cent. until it was refuted by the work of A. L. Lavoisier, who revealed the true nature of combustion. Joseph Priestley, however, defended the theory throughout his lifetime. Henry Cavendish remained doubtful, but most other chemists of the period, including C. L. Berthollet, rejected it.

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phlogiston

phlogiston Odourless, colourless and weightless material believed by early scientists to be the source of all heat and fire. Combustion was believed to involve the loss of phlogiston. The phlogiston theory was proved erroneous when the true nature of combustion was explained by French chemist Antoine Lavoisier.

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phlogiston

phlogiston a substance supposed by 18th-century chemists to exist in all combustible bodies, and to be released in combustion. The phlogiston theory was discredited when Antoine Lavoisier showed the true nature of oxygen.

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phlogiston

phlo·gis·ton / flōˈjistän; -tən/ • n. a substance supposed by 18th-century chemists to exist in all combustible bodies, and to be released in combustion.

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phlogiston

phlogiston (old chem.) principle of inflammability. XVIII. — Gr. phlogistón, n. of phlogistós burnt up, inflammable, f. phlogízein set on tire, f. *phlog- burn; see next.

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