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[eth-uh-leen] /ˈɛθ əˌlin/ Chemistry
containing the ethylene group.
Also called ethene, olefiant gas. a colorless, flammable gas, C 2 H 4 , having a sweet, unpleasant odor and taste, the first member of the ethylene series, usually obtained from petroleum and natural gas: used as an agent to improve the color of citrus fruits, in the synthesis of polyethylene, ethylene dibromide, ethylene oxide, and other organic compounds, and in medicine chiefly as an inhalation anesthetic.
Origin of ethylene
1850-55; ethyl + -ene
Related forms
[eth-uh-lee-nik, -len-ik] /ˌɛθ əˈli nɪk, -ˈlɛn ɪk/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for ethylene
  • But these solutions don't address what the scientists now say is the cause of the needle loss: ethylene, a plant hormone.
  • What goes in car radiators is ethylene glycol, which is toxic.
  • Cyanobacteria can sense ethylene, but whether they can produce the compound is unknown.
  • In fact, the team found ethane, methane and ethylene in spring water located near the oracle.
  • Discusses why growers use ethylene gas to prematurely ripen tomatoes.
  • ethylene glycol is a colorless, odorless, sweet-tasting but poisonous type of alcohol found in many household products.
  • Also in the noxious brew: ammonia, vinyl chloride, and ethylene dichloride.
  • Flowers usually begin to wilt when they produce a hormone called ethylene, which triggers the aging process.
  • ethylene is produced when the apple reacts to oxygen in its environment and advances ripening.
  • Natural gas is broken down under high temperatures into acetylene and a liquid-phase step converts the acetylene into ethylene.
British Dictionary definitions for ethylene


a colourless flammable gaseous alkene with a sweet odour, obtained from petroleum and natural gas and used in the manufacture of polythene and many other chemicals. Formula: CH2:CH2 Also called ethene
Derived Forms
ethylenic (ˌɛθɪˈliːnɪk) adjective
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
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Word Origin and History for ethylene

1852, from ethyl + -ene, probably suggested by methylene.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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ethylene in Medicine

ethylene eth·yl·ene (ěth'ə-lēn')

  1. An explosive gas derived from natural gas and petroleum infrequently used as an inhalation anesthetic. Also called ethene.

  2. The bivalent hydrocarbon radical C2H4 that is isomeric to the ethylidene radical.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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ethylene in Science
A colorless, flammable gas that occurs naturally in certain plants and can be obtained from petroleum and natural gas. As a plant hormone, it ripens and colors fruit, and it is manufactured for use in agriculture to speed these processes. It is also used as a fuel and in making plastics. Ethylene is the simplest alkene, consisting of two carbon atoms joined by a double bond and each attached to two hydrogen atoms. Also called ethene. Chemical formula: C2H4.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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