AskDefine | Define bromide

Dictionary Definition



1 any of the salts of hydrobromic acid; used as a sedative
2 a trite or obvious remark [syn: platitude, cliche, banality, commonplace]
3 a sedative in the form of sodium or potassium bromide

User Contributed Dictionary



From bromine + -ide.


  1. A binary compound of bromine and some other element or radical.
  2. A dose of bromide taken as a sedative.
  3. A dull person with conventional thoughts.
  4. A platitude.
chemistry: binary compound of bromine and another element
  • Finnish: bromidi
  • Italian: bromuro
  • Spanish: bromuro
  • Swedish: bromid

Extensive Definition

A bromide ion is a bromine atom with charge of −1.
Compounds with bromine in formal oxidation state −1 are called bromides, and each individual chemical in this class can be called a bromide, as well. The class name can include ionic compounds such as caesium bromide or covalent compounds such as sulfur dibromide.

Natural occurrence

Bromide is present in typical seawater (35 PSU) with a concentration of around 65 mg/l, which is around 0.2% of all dissolved salts. Seafoods generally have high levels of bromide, while foods derived from land have variable amounts.


One can test for a bromide ion by adding dilute nitric acid (HNO3), then silver nitrate (AgNO3). A cream precipitate forms that disappears in concentrated ammonia solution.

Medical uses

Bromide compounds, especially potassium bromide, were frequently used as sedatives in the 19th and early 20th century. This gave the word "bromide" its colloquial connotation of a boring cliché, a bit of conventional wisdom overused as a sedative.
The bromide ion is antiepileptic, and bromide salts are still used as such, particularly in veterinary medicine.
Chronic toxicity from bromide can result in bromism, a syndrome with multiple neurological symptoms. Bromide toxicity can also cause a type of skin eruption. See potassium bromide.
Lithium bromide was used as a sedative beginning in the early 1900s, but it fell into disfavor in the 1940s when some heart patients died after using it as a salt substitute. Like lithium carbonate and lithium chloride it was used as treatment for Bipolar disorder.

In biology

Bromide is needed by eosinophils (white blood cells of the granulocyte class, specialised for dealing with multicellular parasites), which use it to generate antiparasitic brominating compounds by the action of esoinophil peroxidase, an enzyme which preferentially uses bromide. . Despite this use by the body, bromide is not known to be strictly necessary for life, as its functions may generally replaced (though in some cases not as well) by chloride.
Bromide salts are also sometimes used in hot tubs and spas as mild germicidal agents, using the action of an added oxidizing agent to generate in situ hypobromite, in a similar fashion to the peroxidase in eosinophils.


In some cases, bromide is available in a liquid form at pharmacies. It has been rumoured (in particular by British troops during world War II, who believed it was regularly added to their tea) that bromide can reduce incidence of erections for males (see anaphrodisiac), and this was actually its initial pharmacological use. However, such an action is common to all effective sedatives and not known to be especially particular to bromide.

Current events

In October and November of 2007, more than 400 individuals (mostly children) suffered bromide poisoning in Angola. The source of the bromide appeared to be extremely contaminated table salt.


External links

bromide in Arabic: بروميد
bromide in German: Bromide
bromide in Estonian: Bromiidid
bromide in Spanish: Bromuro
bromide in French: Ion bromure
bromide in Italian: Bromuro
bromide in Dutch: Bromide
bromide in Portuguese: Brometo
bromide in Russian: Бромиды
bromide in Finnish: Bromidi
bromide in Swedish: Bromider
bromide in Chinese: 溴化物

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

abstraction, banality, chestnut, cliche, commonplace, commonplace expression, corn, familiar tune, general idea, generalization, generalized proposition, glittering generality, hackneyed expression, hackneyed saying, lieu commun, locus communis, old joke, old saw, old song, old story, platitude, prosaicism, prosaism, prose, reiteration, retold story, rubber stamp, shibboleth, stereotyped saying, sweeping statement, tag, tired cliche, trite saying, triticism, truism, twice-told tale
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