[ mer-kap-tan ]
/ mərˈkæp tæn /

noun Chemistry.

any of a class of sulfur-containing compounds having the type formula RSH, in which R represents a radical, and having an extremely offensive, garlicky odor.

Origin of mercaptan

1825–35; < Latin, short for phrase corpus mercurium captāns body capturing quicksilver Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for mercaptan

/ (mɜːˈkæptæn) /


another name (not in technical usage) for thiol

Word Origin for mercaptan

C19: from German, from Medieval Latin mercurium captans, literally: seizing quicksilver
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

Medicine definitions for mercaptan

[ mər-kăptăn′ ]


Any of a class of organic compounds in which the oxygen of an alcohol has been replaced by sulfur and which have distinctive, often disagreeable, odors.thiol
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for mercaptan

[ mər-kăptăn′ ]

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