[fawr-mal-duh-hahyd, fer-]
noun Chemistry.
a colorless, toxic, potentially carcinogenic, water-soluble gas, CH 2 O, having a suffocating odor, usually derived from methyl alcohol by oxidation: used chiefly in aqueous solution, as a disinfectant and preservative, and in the manufacture of various resins and plastics.
Also called methanal.
Compare formalin.

1870–75; form(ic) + aldehyde; modeled on German Formaldehyd Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
formaldehyde (fɔːˈmældɪˌhaɪd)
Systematic name: methanal a colourless poisonous irritating gas with a pungent characteristic odour, made by the oxidation of methanol and used as formalin and in the manufacture of synthetic resins. Formula: HCHO
[C19: form(ic) + aldehyde; on the model of German Formaldehyd]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1872, formed from form(ic acid) + aldehyde, coined by Ger. chemist Justus von Liebig (1803-73), abbreviation of al(cohol) dehyd(rogenatum) "dehydrogenated alcohol."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

formaldehyde for·mal·de·hyde (fôr-māl'də-hīd')
A colorless, gaseous compound that is the simplest aldehyde, used for manufacturing melamine and phenolic resins, fertilizers, dyes, and embalming fluids and in aqueous solution as a preservative and disinfectant.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
formaldehyde   (fôr-māl'də-hīd')  Pronunciation Key 
A colorless gas having a sharp, suffocating odor. It is used in making plastics and, when dissolved in a solution of water and methanol, to preserve biological specimens. Chemical formula: CH2O.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
The smell of spilled chemicals, including methanol and formaldehyde, fills the
He made his foray onto the art scene by submersing various animals-sharks,
  sheep, cows-in display cases filled with formaldehyde.
For contemporary purveyors of scandal, one might look among the sharks in
  formaldehyde and heads of frozen human blood.
The piece of medical history is now stored in a formaldehyde solution in a
  cabinet behind the scenes at the museum.
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