noun Chemistry.

a colorless, water-insoluble, flammable liquid, C7H8, having a benzenelike odor, obtained chiefly from coal tar and petroleum: used as a solvent in the manufacture of benzoic acid, benzaldehyde, TNT, and other organic compounds.

Nearby words

  1. toltec,
  2. tolu,
  3. tolu resin,
  4. toluate,
  5. toluca,
  6. toluic,
  7. toluic acid,
  8. toluidine,
  9. toluidine blue o,
  10. toluol

Origin of toluene

First recorded in 1870–75; tolu + -ene Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for toluene

British Dictionary definitions for toluene



a colourless volatile flammable liquid with an odour resembling that of benzene, obtained from petroleum and coal tar and used as a solvent and in the manufacture of many organic chemicals. Formula: C 6 H 5 CH 3

Word Origin for toluene

C19: from tolu + -ene, since it was previously obtained from tolu

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 toluene



colorless liquid hydrocarbon, 1871, from German toluin (Berzelius, 1842), from Tolu, place in Colombia (now Santiago de Tolu) from which balsam of Tolu was obtained from the bark of certain trees. The chemical so called because it was first distilled from balsam of Tolu.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Science definitions for toluene



A clear, toxic, flammable liquid that is used in fuels, explosives, dyes, medicines, and many industrial chemicals. Toluene consists of a methyl group attached to benzene. Also called methylbenzene. Chemical formula: C7H8.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.