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butyric acid bu·tyr·ic acid (byōō-tēr'ĭk)
Either of two colorless isomeric acids occurring in animal milk fats and used in disinfectants, emulsifying agents, and pharmaceuticals. Also called butanoic acid.
a fatty acid occurring in the form of esters in animal fats and plant oils. As a glyceride (an ester containing an acid and glycerol), it makes up 3-4 percent of butter; the disagreeable odour of rancid butter is that of hydrolysis of the butyric acid glyceride. The acid is of considerable commercial importance as a raw material in the manufacture of esters of lower alcohols for use as flavouring agents; its anhydride is used to make cellulose butyrate, a useful plastic. Butyric acid is manufactured by catalyzed air oxidation of butanal (butyraldehyde).