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Absorb vs Adsorb


A sponge will absorb, not adsorb, liquids. These words are commonly confused and misused.
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Absorb is to suck or soak up; to engross or engage wholly.

Adsorb is a scientific term, often used in chemistry, that means to gather (a gas, liquid, or dissolved substance) on a surface in a condensed layer.

“Absorption” and “adsorption” are the noun forms of “absorb” and “adsorb,” respectively. Common misspellings of these words are “absorbtion” and “adsorbtion,” i.e., the sixth letter, in bold, is mistakenly replaced with a “b.”

Because of their similar spellings and pronunciations, absorb and adsorb are often misused.

Absorb sentence examples:

The new paper towels should be much more absorbent.

The teacher spoke so quickly that it was difficult for the students to absorb all of the information.

He was so absorbed in his work that he forgot all about his wife’s birthday.

Solar panels absorb light energy from the sun called photons, and convert this energy to electricity for commercial and residential use.

The convenience store had enough inventory to absorb the costs due to shoplifting.

The naturally occurring pores in a sponge make it very absorbent, and an excellent tool in the kitchen.

Adsorb sentence examples:

The water molecules adsorbed on the glass beaker during the distilling process.

Adsorption was used as an indicator that the experiment was working properly.

Beer makers typically wait until condensation adsorbs to the glassware before they stop the brewing process.

Engineers designed the automobile defrost mechanism specifically to remove moisture that adsorbs to the windshield.

Children love to draw in the condensation adsorbed to the inside of household windows.

The inventive engineers developed a new type of glass that adsorbed 10 times more condensation than existing glass.


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