AskDefine | Define fulmination

Dictionary Definition



1 thunderous verbal attack [syn: diatribe]
2 the act of exploding with noise and violence; "his fulminations frightened the horses"

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. The act of fulminating or exploding; detonation.
  2. The act of thundering forth threats or censures, as with authority.
  3. That which is fulminated or thundered forth; vehement menace or censure.

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Extensive Definition

Fulminates are chemical compounds which include the fulminate ion. The fulminate ion is a pseudohalic ion, acting like a halogen with its charge and reactivity. Due to the instability of the ion, they are friction-sensitive explosives. The best known is mercury fulminate which has been used as a primary explosive in detonators. Fulminates can be formed from metals, like silver and mercury, dissolved in nitric acid and reacted with alcohol. The chemical formula for the fulminate ion is ON+C−. It is largely the presence of the weak single nitrogen-oxygen bond which leads to its instability. Nitrogen very easily forms a stable triple bond to another nitrogen atom, forming gaseous nitrogen.

Historical notes

Fulminates were discovered by Edward Charles Howard in 1800.. Their use in firearms in a fulminating powder was first demonstrated by a Scottish minister, A. J. Forsyth, who was granted a patent in 1807. Joshua Shaw then made the transition to their use in metallic encapsulations, to form a percussion cap, but did not patent his invention until 1822.
In the 1820s, the organic chemist Justus Liebig discovered silver fulminate (Ag-CNO) and Friedrich Wöhler discovered silver cyanate (Ag-NCO). The fact that these substances have the same chemical composition led to an acrid dispute, which was not resolved until Jöns Jakob Berzelius came up with the concept of isomers.



fulmination in Croatian: Fulminati
fulmination in Portuguese: Fulminato
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