chemical weapon

GC: n

S: (last access: 1 September 2014); UN – (last access: 18 December 2015).

N: 1. chemical (adj): 1570s, “relating to chemistry,” from chemic “of alchemy” (a worn-down derivative of Medieval Latin alchimicus; see alchemy) + -al (1). In early use also of alchemy. Related: Chemically.
weapon (n): Old English wæpen “instrument of fighting and defense, sword,” also “penis,” from Proto-Germanic *wæpnan (German Waffe “weapon”), from *webno-m, of unknown origin with no cognates outside Germanic.
2. chemical weapon, any of several chemical compounds, usually toxic agents, that are intended to kill, injure, or incapacitate enemy personnel. In modern warfare, chemical weapons were first used in World War I (1914–18), during which gas warfare inflicted more than one million of the casualties suffered by combatants in that conflict and killed an estimated 90,000. In the years since then, chemical arms have been employed numerous times, most notably in the Iran-Iraq War (1980–88). The United States and the Soviet Union, during their decades of confrontation in the Cold War (1945–91), built up enormous stockpiles of chemical weapons. The end of the Cold War enabled those former adversaries to agree to ban all chemical weapons of the types that had been developed during World War I (first generation), World War II (second generation), and the Cold War (third generation).
3. Like nuclear weapons and biological weapons, chemical weapons are often classified as weapons of mass destruction. Under the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) of 1993, the use of chemical weapons in war is prohibited, as is all development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, and transfer of such weapons.
4. These agents are found as a liquid, gas or solid.

S: 1. OED –; (last access 18 December 2015). 2 & 3. EncBrit – (last access 11 November 2013). 4. TERMIUM PLUS (last access 11 November 2013).


CR: biological weapon