1. dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane: a potent synthetic insecticide, C14H9Cl5, initially developed in the 1940s to combat insect-borne human diseases and later found to be highly and adversely persistent in the environment: agricultural use now prohibited in many countries, including, since 1972, the United States.

Origin of DDT


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British Dictionary definitions for DDT


  1. dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane; a colourless odourless substance used as an insecticide. It is toxic to animals and is known to accumulate in the tissues. It is now banned in the UK

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

Scientific definitions for DDT


[ dē′dē-tē ]

  1. Short for dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane. A powerful insecticide that is also poisonous to humans and animals. It remains active in the environment for many years and has been banned in the United States for most uses since 1972 but is still in use in some countries in which malaria is endemic. Chemical formula: C14H9Cl5.

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

Cultural definitions for DDT


A colorless insecticide that kills on contact. It is poisonous to humans and animals when swallowed or absorbed through the skin. DDT is an abbreviation for dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane.

Notes for DDT

Although DDT, when it was first invented, was considered a great advance in protecting crops from insect damage and in combating diseases spread by insects (such as malaria), discoveries led to its ban in many countries. Residue from DDT has been shown to remain in the ecosystem and the food chain long after its original use, causing harm and even death to animals considered harmless or useful to man.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.