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Quicksilver is a word with a literal meaning which has mostly fallen out of favor, as well as a figurative meaning. We will examine the definition of the word quicksilver, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

Quicksilver is another word for mercury, a metallic chemical element that is liquid under standard conditions. The chemical symbol is Hg. The word quicksilver is also used figuratively to mean something that changes quickly and in an unpredictable manner. The element quicksilver or mercury has been found in Mesoamerican and Egyptian tombs. In particular, pools of quicksilver or mercury were found under the ruins of Teotihuacan, and may have been used as a symbol of an underworld river to the dead. Quicksilver is deadly toxic, and while once commonly used in thermometers and other medical instruments, it has been replaced by electronic instruments. The word quicksilver is derived from the Old English word ceicseolfor, which means living silver. In this case, quick is used in the sense of meaning alive or moving with life.


Mercury was used ubiquitously for centuries, at all levels of society, in its liquid form (quicksilver) or as a salt. (The Toronto Star)

It stores the quicksilver in a vacuole and later deposits it on a surface such as a rock. (The Atlantic Magazine)

The mighty Brahmaputra river is home to rare Ganges dolphin that move like quicksilver and occasionally arch right out of the water. (The Independent)

And because our governmental agencies move like quicksilver, it only took about seven months for the FDA to finalize the nine images that will soon decorate your pack of Kools. (The Consumerist)