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As you know, the noun 'biology' forms the adjective 'biological', and 'chemistry' forms 'chemical'. What is the adjective formed from the noun 'physics'? (It can't be physical, as this has other meanings e.g. tangible, related to real, not imaginary or metaphysical things).

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    It is physical definition 3. It's ambiguous with definition 2 as you observe, but that's what we have. – jejorda2 Jun 2 '17 at 17:52
  • But 'physical' does not work in all circumstances. If I want to say atoms cannot be separated by chemical means, only (insert adjective from physics) means, I cannot use physical, as it has a separate meaning. – user82044 Jun 2 '17 at 18:02
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    Note the name of the publication and its publisher: google.com/search?hl=en&q=physical+review+letters – John Lawler Jun 2 '17 at 18:06
  • ... not by chemical reactions, only by nuclear reactions... – Jim Jun 2 '17 at 18:39
  • I think if you're worried about "physical" being vague, you could just be more specific, as @Jim alludes. In fact, you could argue that this is precisely what one does when using adjectives like "biological" or "chemical." They are all physics! – Evan Jun 3 '17 at 1:38
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Actually, physical is the word you're looking for. I know it seems strange, because physical meaning "tangible" or "doctor's exam" is much more common, but look at this fourth definition from dictionary.com:

pertaining to the physical sciences, especially physics

Or this third definition from Oxford Dictionaries:

Relating to physics or the operation of natural forces generally

They even share the same origin (as we can see here); both terms derive from the Latin word physica, "the study of nature". So while it may seem cumbersome, these words are just homonyms. If possible, you can also use words for subfields in physics, like quantum, mechanical, molecular, nuclear, and more.

Hope I could help.

  • Helpful. But also: let's also consider the physics aspect of the problem. – aparente001 Jun 3 '17 at 4:55
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In many cases, as it pertains to the science of physics, you can use physical as the corresponding adjetive. For example, you can say that water evaporation at 100 oC is a physical process, not a chemical process. Another example: Size is a physical property of an object.

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