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[tol-yoo-een] /ˈtɒl yuˌin/
noun, Chemistry
a colorless, water-insoluble, flammable liquid, C 7 H 8 , having a benzenelike odor, obtained chiefly from coal tar and petroleum: used as a solvent in the manufacture of benzoic acid, benzaldehyde, TNT, and other organic compounds.
Origin of toluene
1870-75; tolu + -ene Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for toluene
  • Why would someone add xylene, toluene and other petrochemical products to a fracking mix.
  • Aerogel attracts oil, toluene and other organic compounds that end up in wastewater from industrial plants.
  • The factory in my town pumps out solvents such as toluene into the air.
  • Then she dissolved the residue in a solvent called toluene.
  • Now toluene, a petroleum derivative, is used for anti-knock.
  • The bacteria in the fuel cell can feed on contaminants such as toluene.
  • toluene and xylene are powerful compounds that are found in many household and industrial substances.
  • toluene is added to gasoline, used to produce benzene, and used as a solvent.
  • toluene occurs naturally in crude oil and in the tolu tree.
British Dictionary definitions for toluene


a colourless volatile flammable liquid with an odour resembling that of benzene, obtained from petroleum and coal tar and used as a solvent and in the manufacture of many organic chemicals. Formula: C6H5CH3
Word Origin
C19: from tolu + -ene, since it was previously obtained from tolu
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 toluene

colorless liquid hydrocarbon, 1871, from German toluin (Berzelius, 1842), from Tolu, place in Colombia (now Santiago de Tolu) from which balsam of Tolu was obtained from the bark of certain trees. The chemical so called because it was first distilled from balsam of Tolu.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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toluene in Science
A clear, toxic, flammable liquid that is used in fuels, explosives, dyes, medicines, and many industrial chemicals. Toluene consists of a methyl group attached to benzene. Also called methylbenzene. Chemical formula: C7H8.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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