AskDefine | Define laboratory

Dictionary Definition



1 a workplace for the conduct of scientific research [syn: lab, research lab, research laboratory, science lab, science laboratory]
2 a region resembling a laboratory inasmuch as it offers opportunities for observation and practice and experimentation; "the new nation is a testing ground for socioeconomic theories"; "Pakistan is a laboratory for studying the use of American troops to combat terrorism" [syn: testing ground]

User Contributed Dictionary



Shortened from elaboratory; confer elaboratoire, laboratoire; from laboratorium from laborare (to labour)


  • (UK) /lə'bɒɹət(ə)ɹiː/
  • (US) /'læbɹɪˌtɔɹi/


laboratory (plural:'' laboratories)
  1. a room, building or institution equipped for scientific research, experimentation or analysis
  2. a place where chemicals, drugs or microbes are prepared or manufactured


room, building or institution equipped for scientific research
place where chemicals, drugs or microbes are prepared or manufactured
Translations to be checked

Extensive Definition

A laboratory (informally, lab) is a facility that provides controlled conditions in which scientific research, experiments, and measurement may be performed. The title of laboratory is also used for certain other facilities where the processes or equipment used are similar to those in scientific laboratories. These notably include:
Scientific laboratories can be found in schools and universities, in industry, in government or military facilities, and even aboard ships and spacecraft. A laboratory might offer work space for just one to more than thirty researchers depending on its size and purpose.

Characteristics of scientific laboratories

Labs used for scientific research take many forms because of the differing requirements of specialists in the various fields of science. A physics lab might contain a particle accelerator or vacuum chamber, while a metallurgy lab could have apparatus for casting or refining metals or for testing their strength. A chemist or biologist might use a wet laboratory, while a psychologist's or economist's lab might be a room with one-way mirrors and hidden cameras in which to observe behavior. In some laboratories, computers (sometimes supercomputers) are used for either simulations or the analysis of data collected elsewhere. Scientists in other fields will use still other types of laboratories. Despite the great differences among laboratories, some features are common. The use of workbenches or countertops at which the scientist may choose to either sit or stand is a common way to ensure comfortable working conditions for the researcher, who may spend a large portion of his or her working day in the laboratory. The provision of cabinets for the storage of laboratory equipment is quite common. It is traditional for a scientist to record an experiment's progress in a laboratory notebook, but modern labs almost always contain at least one computer workstation for data collection and analysis.

Lab safety

In some laboratories, the conditions are no more dangerous than in any other room. In many labs, though, hazards are present. Laboratory hazards are as varied as the subjects of study in laboratories, and might include poisons; infectious agents; flammable, explosive, or radioactive materials; moving machinery; extreme temperatures; strong magnetic fields or high voltage. In laboratories where dangerous conditions might exist, safety precautions are important. Rules exist to minimize the individual's risk, and safety equipment is used to protect the lab user from injury or to assist in responding to an emergency.

External links

laboratory in Afrikaans: Laboratorium
laboratory in Arabic: مختبر
laboratory in Asturian: Llaboratoriu
laboratory in Bulgarian: Лаборатория
laboratory in Catalan: Laboratori
laboratory in Czech: Laboratoř
laboratory in Danish: Laboratorium
laboratory in German: Labor
laboratory in Spanish: Laboratorio
laboratory in Esperanto: Laboratorio
laboratory in French: Laboratoire de recherche
laboratory in Scottish Gaelic: Deuchainnlann
laboratory in Galician: Laboratorio
laboratory in Indonesian: Laboratorium
laboratory in Italian: Laboratorio
laboratory in Hebrew: מעבדה
laboratory in Lithuanian: Laboratorija
laboratory in Dutch: Laboratorium
laboratory in Japanese: 研究室
laboratory in Polish: Laboratorium
laboratory in Portuguese: Laboratório
laboratory in Russian: Лаборатория
laboratory in Simple English: Laboratory
laboratory in Slovenian: Laboratorij
laboratory in Serbian: Лабораторија
laboratory in Finnish: Laboratorio
laboratory in Swedish: Laboratorium
laboratory in Tamil: ஆய்வுகூடம்
laboratory in Chinese: 實驗室

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

X ray, blood bank, charity ward, clinic, consultation room, delivery room, dispensary, emergency, examining room, fever ward, hospital room, intensive care, isolation, lab, labor room, maternity ward, nursery, operating room, pharmacy, prison ward, private room, proving ground, recovery room, research establishment, research installation, research laboratory, semi-private room, surgery, therapy, think tank, treatment room, ward
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