I found a paper from 1812 which specifically mentions the evolution of a gas [1].

There is a similar reference from 1808, except it uses the term evolution to speak of green light emitted when a material touches a green wire [2].

Is there anyone who knows for sure when the first time “gas evolution reaction” and the “gas evolved” and other such uses for the term “evolved” appeared in chemistry?


  1. Henry, W. LX. Additional Experiments on the Muriatic and Oxymuriatic Acids. The Philosophical Magazine 1812, 40 (175), 337–343. DOI: 10.1080/14786441208638245.
  2. Scholes, J. XI. On the Union of Gases. The Philosophical Magazine 1808, 31 (121), 68–70. DOI: 10.1080/14786440808563850.

1 Answer 1


There is no specific term as "gas evolution reaction" in modern chemistry but the word evolve itself conveys this meaning of emission. I am curious as to why you are interested in this terminology? Just for the sake of historical interest, the unabridged Oxford Dictionary (subscription required) shows that the term dates back to 1770s in relation to gas, heat, light etc. However there is no guarantee that the following references are the earliest. If you have more energy or you are a serious scholar of history, you might need to see German and French literature before the 1770s and what words Lavoisier used when he heated the oxide of mercury and discovered oxygen.

IV. The process of emission.

  1. Chiefly Chemistry. The emission or release of gas, heat, light, etc.; the disengagement of a substance from combination; an instance of such a process. Cf. evolve v. 5.

1783 Philos. Trans. (Royal Soc.) 73 350 The method put in practice by Mr. Hutchins to settle the freezing point of quicksilver depends entirely upon this generation, re-appearance or evolution of heat.

1800 H. Davy Res. Nitrous Oxide 425 This is on account of the increased evolution of nitrogene from the blood.

Similarly, evolve is even older

1772 [implied in: J. MacLurg Exper. Human Bile 38 The colouring matter of the Bile discovers also a much stronger attraction to the mineral acids, and gives indubitable marks of a more evolved phlogiston. (at evolved adj. 2)].

1786 Edinb. New Dispensatory i. 7 In the incipient state a quantity of gas is still evolved, and along with it a quantity of alkaline air.


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