• synonyms


[uh-set-l-een, -in]
noun Chemistry.
  1. a colorless gas, C2H2, having an etherlike odor, produced usually by the action of water on calcium carbide or by pyrolysis of natural gas: used especially in metal cutting and welding, as an illuminant, and in organic synthesis.
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Origin of acetylene

First recorded in 1860–65; acetyl + -ene
Also called ethine, ethyne.
Related formsa·cet·y·len·ic [uh-set-l-en-ik] /əˌsɛt lˈɛn ɪk/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for acetylene

Historical Examples

  • The acetylene is bought in tanks, and the air compressed by a pump.

    The Automobile Storage Battery

    O. A. Witte

  • Only two of them, methane and acetylene, will be discussed here.

  • The acetylene formed is disengaged and enters the gasometer.

  • With a quick motion Kennedy turned off the acetylene and oxygen.

    The Silent Bullet

    Arthur B. Reeve

  • Then added: "I've got an acetylene lantern; perhaps we can get a picture."

    Wild Animals at Home

    Ernest Thompson Seton

British Dictionary definitions for acetylene


  1. a colourless flammable gas used in the manufacture of organic chemicals and in cutting and welding metals. Formula: C 2 H 2Systematic name: ethyne
    1. another name for alkyne
    2. (as modifier)acetylene series
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Derived Formsacetylenic (əˌsɛtɪˈlɛnɪk), adjective
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

Word Origin and History for acetylene


gaseous hydrocarbon, 1864, from French acétylène, coined by French chemist Marcelin-Pierre-Eugène Berthelot (1823-1907) from chemical ending -ene + acetyl, which was coined from acetic in 1839 by German chemist Justus von Liebig; see acetic. Liebig's coinage was in reference to a different radical; acetyl was transferred to its current sense in 1850s, but Berthelot's coinage was based on the original use of acetyl.

The name acetylene is an unfortunate one as the hydrocarbon is not directly related to the modern acetyl radical and the molecule ... contains a triple bond, not a double bond which the suffix -ene (q.v.) implies. [Flood, "Origins of Chemical Names," 1963]
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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

acetylene in Medicine


(ə-sĕtl-ēn′, -ən)
  1. A colorless, highly flammable, and explosive gas used for metal welding and cutting and as an illuminant.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

acetylene in Science


[ə-sĕtl-ēn′, -ən]
  1. A colorless, highly flammable or explosive gas with a characteristic sweet odor. It is used in welding torches and in the manufacture of organic chemicals such as vinyl chloride. Acetylene is the simplest alkyne, consisting of two carbon atoms joined by a triple bond and each attached to a single hydrogen atom. Also called ethyne. Chemical formula: C2H2.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.