or T.N.T.

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Chemistry. a yellow, crystalline, water-insoluble, flammable solid, C7H5N3O6, derived from toluene by nitration, a high explosive unaffected by ordinary friction or shock: used chiefly in military and other explosive devices, and as an intermediate in the preparation of dye-stuffs and photographic chemicals.
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In the UK, COTTON CANDY is more commonly known as…
Also called trinitrotoluene, trinitrotoluol, methyltrinitrobenzene, trotyl .

Origin of TNT

First recorded in 1910–15

Words nearby TNT

Other definitions for TNT (2 of 2)


abbreviation Trademark.
Turner Network Television: a cable television channel.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What is TNT?

TNT is a yellow, odorless powder at room temperature. TNT is highly explosive and has been used in the making of military weapons and industrial explosives.

TNT is often confused and used interchangeably with another explosive: dynamite. While TNT and dynamite are both explosive, they have little else in common. They have totally different chemical properties and are made from completely different ingredients.

Because it is highly explosive and highly dangerous, TNT is almost always regulated by government agencies, such as the United States’s Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. In the United States TNT can legally be made only by the U.S. military but can be legally purchased from other countries for approved industrial reasons.

Using TNT in explosives is frequently depicted in popular culture, such as the Looney Tunes and Mickey Mouse cartoons.

Example: Wile E. Coyote is often blown up by his own TNT when he fails to catch the Road Runner.

Where does TNT come from?

The first records of TNT come from around 1910. It is an abbreviation of 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene.

TNT is made by mixing toluene with nitric and sulfuric acids. It was discovered by German chemist Joseph Wilbrand in 1863, but people didn’t use it as an explosive until the 1890s. After the start of World War I in 1916, other countries saw how effective TNT was in war and began producing large amounts of TNT. It was so popular with the world’s militaries during this time that there were shortages of the ingredients needed to make it.

Today, TNT is still widely used for military and, less often, industrial purposes. It is used in a variety of weapons and explosives, such as grenades, bombs, and artillery shells. Industrially, TNT is used for underwater blasting and in the production of dyes and photographic chemicals.

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What are some other forms related to TNT?

  • T.N.T. (alternative spelling)
  • 2,4,6-trinitrotoluene (spelled-out form)

What are some words that often get used in discussing TNT?

What are some words TNT may be commonly confused with?

How is TNT used in real life?

While TNT is still a common ingredient in military weapons and explosives, the term is used more often in popular culture.

How to use TNT in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for TNT


2,4,6-trinitrotoluene; a yellow solid: used chiefly as a high explosive and is also an intermediate in the manufacture of dyestuffs. Formula: CH 3 C 6 H 2 (NO 2) 3
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 TNT

[ tē′ĕn-tē ]

Short for trinitrotoluene. A yellow, crystalline compound used mainly as an explosive. As it can only explode by means of a detonator and is not affected by shock, it is safe to handle and is used especially in munitions and for demolitions. Chemical formula: C7H5N3O6.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.