• synonyms


noun Chemistry.
  1. a plastic polymer of ethylene used chiefly for containers, electrical insulation, and packaging.
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Origin of polyethylene

First recorded in 1935–40; poly- + ethylene
Also called, British, polythene.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for polyethylene


  1. another name for polythene
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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 polyethylene


polymer of ethylene, 1862, from French polyéthylène; see poly- + ethylene. Related: Polyethylenic (1860).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

polyethylene in Science


  1. Any of various artificial resins consisting of many ethyl groups (CH2CH2) joined end to end or in branched chains. Polyethylenes are easily molded and are resistant to other chemicals. They can be repeatedly softened and hardened by heating and cooling, and are used for many purposes, such as making containers, tubes, and packaging.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.