An apple gone brown on the counter or a penny turned green over years have both gone through the process of oxidation, or exposure to air, which changes their properties — including color.

Oxidation is a word used to describe what happens when metal rusts or starts to disintegrate over time with exposure to air. But the process of oxidation — a word that looks very much like the word oxygen — isn't limited only to metals. Bananas turn brown over time because of the oxidation process. If you see an old car crumbling from all its rust, it's seen its fair share of the oxidation process.

Definitions of oxidation

n the process of oxidizing; the addition of oxygen to a compound with a loss of electrons; always occurs accompanied by reduction

oxidisation, oxidization
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the conversion of metals into their oxides as a result of heating to a high temperature
burning, combustion
a process in which a substance reacts with oxygen to give heat and light
the oxidation of ammonium compounds in dead organic material into nitrates and nitrites by soil bacteria (making nitrogen available to plants)
rust, rusting
the formation of reddish-brown ferric oxides on iron by low-temperature oxidation in the presence of water
combustion that propagates through a gas or along the surface of an explosive at a rapid rate driven by the transfer of heat
fire, flame, flaming
the process of combustion of inflammable materials producing heat and light and (often) smoke
internal combustion
the combustion of fuel inside a cylinder (as in an internal-combustion engine)
Type of:
chemical reaction, reaction
(chemistry) a process in which one or more substances are changed into others

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