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Ion. An atom or radical (q.v.) that becomes electrically charged when it either gains or loses one or more electrons (q.v.). Positive ions, called cations, result from the loss of electrons, and negative ions, called anions, result from the gain of electrons, with their respective valences equaling the number of electrons lost or gained and indicated by plus or minus signs, respectively. Ions are formed when electrolytes (q.v.) are dissolved in a suitable solvent (q.v.) and undergo dissociation (q.v.).