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What's up? The word "deposition" in the following quotation from the article on microwave ovens in Wikipedia seems to have a meaning that I am not familiar with and that I do not find in MW Unabridged or American Heritage Dict:

Depending on water content, the depth of initial heat deposition may be several centimetres or more with microwave ovens, in contrast to broiling/grilling (infrared) or convection heating—methods which deposit heat thinly at the food surface.

(Maybe I am making too much of it and the writer just means how far the heat penetrates. If so, I think he/she is guilty of using fancy language instead of plain English in order to sound oh-so-technocratic.)

  • MW's definitions 3 & 4 are relevant. merriam-webster.com/dictionary/deposition – Xanne Jun 30 '17 at 5:02
  • Did you mean 'technocratic? Did the writer advocate a system of governance where decision-makers are selected on the basis of technological knowledge? – Spagirl Jun 30 '17 at 10:14
  • I guess he meant "technical". – Barmar Jun 30 '17 at 14:38
  • This is a bit of a peculiar usage. There is a history of using "the heat deposited by" when talking about total heat transfer without regard to mode of transfer. It is often used as a sort of collective term for the total heat from all of the different modes of heat transfer taking place. Heat deposited, Heat deposition – Phil Sweet Jun 30 '17 at 20:30
  • "Maybe I am making too much of it and the writer just means how far the heat penetrates. If so, I think he/she is guilty of using fancy language instead of plain English in order to sound oh-so-technocratic." You make it sound like a bad thing. The heat penetrates all the way through. The author wants the location where heat is first manifest. The distinction might not be important to most, but if you are trying to explain how something works, it is good to do it in a way that withstands scrutiny from professionals. Explanations, like models, should be as simple as possible and no simpler. – Phil Sweet Jun 30 '17 at 21:11
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Using the standard definition of deposition allows you to discern the meaning: something along the lines of "putting heat down". So, in the sentence it would be "how far the heat is put down" - basically, how far the heat penetrates, as you said.

It is a bad word choice because deposition usually refers to solid, tangible things like minerals.

  • It is idiomatic, but with wide acceptance in engineering. Try googling it before saying it is a bad usage. Google Scholar search – Phil Sweet Jun 30 '17 at 20:45

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