an o-ring is a flat, usually circular piece of plastic or rubber that is used in many machines, equipment, most often where some sort of a seal is necessary.

the o-ring works as a gasket, it prevents liquid or gas from escaping.

when an o-ring is damaged or worn down, it must be replaced, which generally requires temporary dismantling. the o-ring seal can be extremely important, and thusly it is necessary to check on them from time to time.

let me relate to you a little tale of what happens when o-rings are not checked regularly: i've been known to work, off and on, with my father in the insulating business. polyurethane spray-foam insulation, that is. the machines for said purpose have o-rings in various locations, and it just so happens that not all too long ago, one o-ring (which was in need of replacement) got to the point where it couldn't handle the stress, and it completely blew away from the pressure. this resulted in a terribly exciting chain reaction of events, ending with a lot of chemical being spewed out in a fountainesque manner. bad stuff.

o-rings come in varying sizes, and make nifty engagement bands.

O-rings are also the small circular pieces of metal with a diagonal cut used to make or repair jewelry. Any idiot with a pair of needle-nosed pliers and some silver and gold o-rings can repair a number of different jewelry problems, such as earring drops that have come off of the post. O-rings are one of the basic necessities for making one's own jewelry, as well. They're available at places like Beverly's or Hobby Lobby in large and small bags, painted gold or silver or actually made of precious metals.

O-Rings are not restricted to plastic or rubber. Any circular gasketing device can be considered an o-ring. In RADAR systems, o-rings are used to keep the pressurized non-arcing gas (usually dry nitrogen) in the waveguides. They are usually made of silicon because rubber can get heated and damaged when used in waveguides. Metal o-rings are used on high-stress, high-heat items, such as the solid booster rockets on the Space Shuttle.

"O-ring" is also a slang term for the anal sphincter.

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