Field of Science

Weird Words of Science 1


The virial equation provides both a general form for an equation of state for gases or liquids, as well as a connection (through its coefficients) to the microscopic level intermolecular forces experienced by the atoms and molecules. The equation of state can be used (along with other information) to arrive at a phase diagram. The Latin root of the word is vir which is a plural form of vis or force.

Physical chemists are quite fond of the virial expansion, as this quote might suggest:
"The virial expansion is one of the cleanest-cut developments in the subject of statistical mechnics." Condon and Odishaw in the Handbook of Physics, 1967.


  1. Vir is actually the latin word for man. So "manly" might be a better root word, which could in some way correspond to force.

  2. Yes, vir is the Latin for man, and your theory sounds sensible, but it is certain that the "vir" in virial comes not from "vir" for man, but from "vis" for force. Virial was coined by Clausis (of thermodynamic fame) who said he used the stem of the Latin for forces: viris (the plural of vis).

    The two words come from unrelated roots in the Latin (vir is very ancient, vis is from the Greek and has to do with what you see!).

    Thanks for weighing in...


Markup Key:
- <b>bold</b> = bold
- <i>italic</i> = italic
- <a href="">FoS</a> = FoS