[uh-set-l-een, -in]

noun Chemistry.

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.

Nearby words

  1. acetylation,
  2. acetylbenzene,
  3. acetylcholine,
  4. acetylcholinesterase,
  5. acetylcysteine,
  6. acetylene series,
  7. acetylformic acid,
  8. acetylic,
  9. acetylide,
  10. acetylize

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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for acetylene

British Dictionary definitions for acetylene



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
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]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for acetylene


[ə-sĕtl-ēn′, -ən]


A colorless, highly flammable, and explosive gas used for metal welding and cutting and as an illuminant.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for acetylene


[ə-sĕtl-ēn′, -ən]

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.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.