Science, Tech, Math › Science Solvent Definition in Chemistry Share Flipboard Email Print Sometimes water is called the universal solvent. Ivan-balvan / Getty Images Science Chemistry Chemical Laws Basics Molecules Periodic Table Projects & Experiments Scientific Method Biochemistry Physical Chemistry Medical Chemistry Chemistry In Everyday Life Famous Chemists Activities for Kids Abbreviations & Acronyms Biology Physics Geology Astronomy Weather & Climate By Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Chemistry Expert Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. our editorial process Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Anne Marie Helmenstine, Ph.D. Updated October 07, 2019 A solvent is the component of a solution that is present in the greatest amount. It is the substance in which the solute is dissolved. Usually, a solvent is a liquid. However, it can be a gas, solid, or supercritical fluid. The amount of solvent required to dissolve a solute depends on temperature and the presence of other substances in a sample. The word "solvent" comes from the Latin solvō, which means to loosen or untie. Examples of Solvents The solvent for seawater is water.The solvent for air is nitrogen. Source Tinoco, I.; Sauer, K.; Wang, J.C. (2002). Physical Chemistry. Prentice Hall. ISBN 978-0-13-026607-1.