Also called aniline oil, aminobenzine, phenylamine. Chemistry. a colorless, oily, slightly water-soluble liquid, C 6 H 5 NH 2 , usually derived from nitrobenzene by reduction: used chiefly in the synthesis of dyes and drugs.
chemical base used in making colorful dyes, 1850, coined 1841 by Ger. chemist Carl Julius Fritzsche (18081871), ultimately from Port. anil "the indigo shrub," from Arabic an-nil "the indigo," assimilated from al-nil, from Pers. nila, ult. from Skt. nili "indigo," from nilah "dark blue."