1. Physical Chemistry. a semirigid colloidal dispersion of a solid with a liquid or gas, as jelly, glue, etc.
  2. Theater. gelatin(def 5).
  3. Biochemistry. a semirigid polymer, as agarose, starch, cellulose acetate, or polyacrylamide, cast into slabs or cylinders for the electrophoretic separation of proteins and nucleic acids.

verb (used without object), gelled, gel┬Ěling.

  1. to form or become a gel.
  2. jell(def 2).


  1. a semirigid jelly-like colloid in which a liquid is dispersed in a solidnondrip paint is a gel
  2. See hair gel
  3. theatre informal See gelatine (def. 4)

verb gels, gelling or gelled

  1. to become or cause to become a gel
  2. a variant spelling of jell

1899, as a chemical term, short for gelatin and perhaps influenced by jell. The invention of this word is credited to Scottish chemist Thomas Graham (1805-1869). Hair-styling sense is from 1958. The verb meaning “to become a gel” is attested by 1902; figurative sense is from 1958. Related: Gelled; gelling.


  1. A colloid in which the disperse phase combines with the dispersion medium to produce a semisolid material.


  1. To become a gel.
  2. To convert a sol into a gel.

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