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1. Any of six incombustible chemical-resistant silicate minerals, including one serpentine (chrysotile) and five amphiboles (amosite, crocidolite, and fibrous forms of actinolite, anthophyllite, and tremolite), that separate easily into long, thin, flexible fibers and that have been widely used commercially in products such as fireproofing, electrical insulation, building materials, brake linings, and chemical filters. Mining and use of asbestos has been restricted because inhalation of asbestos fibers can cause asbestosis and cancer.
2. Fabric or material containing any of these mineral forms.
Of, made of, or containing one of these six mineral forms.
[Middle English asbestus, a kind of mineral which could not be extinguished when it caught fire, perhaps also asbestos (whose fibers may have been made into wicks that would never be consumed when used in ever-burning oil lamps), from Medieval Latin, from Latin asbestos, a kind of mineral (exact meaning uncertain), from Greek, quicklime, from asbestos (tintanos), unquenchable (lime), from asbestos, unquenchable (quicklime being so called because it reacts vigorously with water to release heat that can ignite combustible substances) : a-, not; see a-1 + sbennunai, sbes-, to quench.]
as·bes′tine (-tĭn), as·bes′tic (-tĭk) adj.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.