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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ the actress's infamous mercurial nature
▪ Certain deficiencies, of vitamins or iodine, can be harmful, and there are serious dangers from mercurial or lead poisoning.
▪ Flamboyant, mercurial creatures, they had passionate wills of their own; they exercised a devious, seductive fascination.
▪ His mercurial and fickle temperament left him with few friends.
▪ Indeed, anyone who does not master this mercurial context will be mastered by it.
▪ It is diverse, volatile, and mercurial.
▪ Nobody could have been more opposite to the flamboyant Sukarno, or even the haughty Jinnah or the mercurial Nehru.
▪ Nothing, no sign of our mercurial companion.
▪ We could turn to the law for justice rather than depend on the mercurial whims of some benevolent or dictatorial boss.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Mercurial \Mer*cu"ri*al\, n.

  1. A person having mercurial qualities.

  2. (Med.) A preparation containing mercury.


Mercurial \Mer*cu"ri*al\, a. [L. mercurialis, fr. Mercurius Mercury: cf. F. mercuriel.]

  1. Having the qualities fabled to belong to the god Mercury; swift; active; sprightly; fickle; volatile; changeable; as, a mercurial youth; a mercurial temperament.

    A mercurial man Who fluttered over all things like a fan.

  2. Having the form or image of Mercury; -- applied to ancient guideposts. [Obs.]

  3. Of or pertaining to Mercury as the god of trade; hence, money-making; crafty.

    The mercurial wand of commerce.
    --J. Q. Adams.

  4. Of or pertaining to, or containing, mercury; as, mercurial preparations, barometer. See Mercury, 2.

  5. (Med.) Caused by the use of mercury; as, mercurial sore mouth.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

late 14c., "pertaining to the planet Mercury" (see Mercury). Meaning "sprightly, volatile, quick" (1590s) is from supposed qualities of those born under the planet Mercury (they also are the qualities of the god Mercury), probably also partly by association with the qualities of quicksilver. A variant in this sense was mercurious (1590s). Related: Mercurially; mercuriality.


a. 1 (often capitalized, see (term: Mercurial)) Pertaining to the planet Mercury. (from 14th c.) 2 (often capitalized, see (term: Mercurial)) Pertaining to the Roman god Mercury, the god of trade; hence, money-making; crafty.. (from 15th c.) 3 (context astrology English) Born under the influence of the planet Mercury, and having such characteristics. (from 16th c.) 4 Of, or pertaining to the element mercury; containing mercury; caused by the action of mercury or quicksilver. (from 16th c.) 5 Having a volatile or lively character; quick-witted, changeable, animated. (from 17th c.) n. 1 (context obsolete English) Any of the plants known as mercury. (13th-17th c.) 2 (context astrology English) Someone born under the influence of Mercury. (from 16th c.) 3 (context now historical English) A preparation of mercury, especially as a treatment for syphilis. (from 17th c.)

  1. adj. liable to sudden unpredictable change; "erratic behavior"; "fickle weather"; "mercurial twists of temperament"; "a quicksilver character, cool and willful at one moment, utterly fragile the next" [syn: erratic, fickle, quicksilver(a)]

  2. relating to or under the (astrological) influence of the planet Mercury; "the Mercurial canals"

  3. relating to or having characteristics (eloquence, shrewdness, swiftness, thievishness) attributed to the god Mercury; "more than Mercurial thievishness"

  4. relating to or containing or caused by mercury; "mercurial preparations"; "mercurial sore mouth"


Mercurial, a cross-platform, distributed revision-control tool for software developers, is mainly implemented using the Python programming language, but includes a binary diff implementation written in C. It is supported on MS Windows and Unix-like systems, such as FreeBSD, Mac OS X and Linux. Mercurial is primarily a command-line driven program, but graphical user interface extensions are available. All of Mercurial's operations are invoked as arguments to its driver program hg (a reference to Hg - the chemical symbol of the element mercury).

Mercurial's major design goals include high performance and scalability, decentralized, fully distributed collaborative development, robust handling of both plain text and binary files, and advanced branching and merging capabilities, while remaining conceptually simple. It includes an integrated web-interface. Mercurial has also taken steps to ease the transition for users of other version control systems, particularly Subversion.

Matt Mackall originated Mercurial and serves as its lead developer. Mercurial is released as free software under the terms of the GNU GPL v2 (or any later version).

Usage examples of "mercurial".

Depletion of the blood by drastic and poisonous medicines, such as antimony and mercurials, hemorrhages and blood-letting, syphilis, excessive mental or physical labor, as well as a too early use and abuse of the sexual organs, all tend to waste the blood, reduce the tone of the system, and develop scrofula.

He may dream of a beautiful and complaisant mistress, less exigent and mercurial than any a bachelor may hope to discover--and stand aghast at admitting her to his bank-book, his family-tree and his secret ambitions.

The gestalt images themselves mostly reminded it of icons it had seen before, or the stylized fleshers it had seen in representational art: far more diverse, and far more mercurial, than real fleshers could ever be.

A revolutionary, a mercurial figure who shared with Beethoven a self- consciousness about his genius that would become the hallmark of the romantic movement, he wrote a vivid autobiography but his music was autobiographical too.

The resultants of all other poisons were unapparent, save those of mercurial compounds, which usually left me languid for several days.

Chap Men, or Running, Flying, and other mercurial stationers, peripatetic booksellers, pedlers, packmen, and again chepmen, these visited the villages and small towns from the large printers of the supply towns, as London, Banbury, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, etc.

In October 1919 he heads for Cambridge, and falls in love with a young emigree living in London, Sonia Zilanov, mercurial, critical, a tease, a flirt, a challenge promising little hope of success.

Roy Hempel, the owner of Mercurial Books, sighing with relief when she pushed open the door and almost ran to the podium.

Tapton Everard, and such the story which the lively Caroline Ingoldsby detailed to her equally mercurial cousin Charles Seaforth, lieutenant in the Hon.

Depletion of the blood by drastic and poisonous medicines, such as antimony and mercurials, hemorrhages and blood-letting, syphilis, excessive mental or physical labor, as well as a too early use and abuse of the sexual organs, all tend to waste the blood, reduce the tone of the system, and develop scrofula.

He who slew him was the surgeon Feuchter at Cremsir, who applied thirtysix mercurial plasters on a gland in his left groin which was swollen but not by the pox, as I am sure by the description he gave me of the cause of the swelling.

In blood of the passions: mercurial they, Shifty their issue: stir not that pit To the game our brutes best play.

Holyoke thinks the more general use of mercurials in inflammatory complaints dates from the time of their employment in this disease, in which they were thought to have proved specially useful.

Conscious that the human organism, normally capable of sustaining an atmospheric pressure of 19 tons, when elevated to a considerable altitude in the terrestrial atmosphere suffered with arithmetical progression of intensity, according as the line of demarcation between troposphere and stratosphere was approximated from nasal hemorrhage, impeded respiration and vertigo, when proposing this problem for solution, he had conjectured as a working hypothesis which could not be proved impossible that a more adaptable and differently anatomically constructed race of beings might subsist otherwise under Martian, Mercurial, Veneral, Jovian, Saturnian, Neptunian or Uranian sufficient and equivalent conditions, though an apogean humanity of beings created in varying forms with finite differences resulting similar to the whole and to one another would probably there as here remain inalterably and inalienably attached to vanities, to vanities of vanities and to all that is vanity.

In his mind he could see himself in that wretched condition gleaming mercurial eyes, a wormlike probe bursting bloodlessly from his forehead to seek obscene conjugation with the computer.