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[stahy-reen, steer-een] /ˈstaɪ rin, ˈstɪər in/
noun, Chemistry
a colorless, water-insoluble liquid, C 8 H 8 , having a penetrating aromatic odor, usually prepared from ethylene and benzene or ethylbenzene, that polymerizes to a clear transparent material and copolymerizes with other materials to form synthetic rubbers.
Compare polystyrene.
1880-85; styr- (shortened stem of styrax) + -ene Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for styrene
  • styrene molecules migrate into your food from containers and, once in your system, become estrogen mimics.
  • styrene is primarily a synthetic chemical that is used extensively in the manufacture of plastics, rubber, and resins.
  • styrene is a chemical used to make latex, synthetic rubber, and polystyrene resins.
British Dictionary definitions for styrene


a colourless oily volatile flammable water-insoluble liquid made from ethylene and benzene. It is an unsaturated compound and readily polymerizes: used in making synthetic plastics and rubbers. Formula: C6H5CH:CH2 See also polystyrene
Word Origin
C20: from styr(ax) + -ene
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 styrene

colorless hydrocarbon, 1885, from Styrax, name of a genus of trees (the chemical is found in their resin), 1786, from Latin styrax, from Greek styrax, of Sem. origin (cf. Hebrew tsori "terebinth resin"). Form influenced by Greek styrax "shaft of a lance."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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styrene in Medicine

styrene sty·rene (stī'rēn')
A colorless oily liquid from which polystyrenes, plastics, and synthetic rubber are produced. Also called vinylbenzene.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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styrene in Science
A colorless, oily aromatic hydrocarbon that readily undergoes polymerization. It is used in making polystyrene, polyesters, synthetic rubber, and other products. Chemical formula: C8H8.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Article for styrene


liquid hydrocarbon that belongs to the family of aromatic organic compounds and is important chiefly for its marked tendency to undergo polymerization. Styrene is used in the manufacture of plastics, resins, and rubbers, which are composed of very large molecules (polymers) formed by combination of smaller ones (monomers). It is also used to make polyesters and latex paints.

Learn more about phenylethylene with a free trial on
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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