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[nahy-tril, -treel, -trahyl]
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noun Chemistry.
  1. any of a class of organic compounds with the general formula RC≡N.

Origin of nitrile

1840–50; nitr- + -ile, perhaps variant of -yl
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for nitrile


  1. any one of a class of organic compounds containing the monovalent group -CNAlso called (not in technical usage): cyanide
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

nitrile in Medicine


  1. An organic cyanide containing a CN group.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

nitrile in Science


  1. An organic compound, such as acrylonitrile, containing the cyanide group CN. Nitriles are typically colorless solids or liquids and have a distinctive smell.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.