verb (used with object) Physical Chemistry.

  1. to gather (a gas, liquid, or dissolved substance) on a surface in a condensed layer: Charcoal will adsorb gases.


  1. to undergo or cause to undergo a process in which a substance, usually a gas, accumulates on the surface of a solid forming a thin film, often only one molecule thickto adsorb hydrogen on nickel; oxygen adsorbs on tungsten Compare absorb (def. 8)

1882, transitive (intransitive use attested from 1919), back-formation from adsorption (1882), coined in German from ad- + -sorption, abstracted from absorption. See absorb. Related: Adsorbent; adsorption.


  1. The property of a solid or liquid to attract and hold to its surface a gas, liquid, solute, or suspension.


  1. To take up by adsorption.

  1. The process by which molecules of a substance, such as a gas or a liquid, collect on the surface of another substance, such as a solid. The molecules are attracted to the surface but do not enter the solid’s minute spaces as in absorption. Some drinking water filters consist of carbon cartridges that adsorb contaminants. Compare absorption.

The assimilation of a gas, liquid, or dissolved substance by the surface of a solid.

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