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xylene

[zahy-leen] /ˈzaɪ lin/
noun, Chemistry
1.
any of three oily, colorless, water-insoluble, flammable, toxic, isomeric liquids, C 8 H 10 , of the benzene series, obtained mostly from coal tar: used chiefly in the manufacture of dyes.
Also, xylol [zahy-lawl, -lol] /ˈzaɪ lɔl, -lɒl/ (Show IPA).
Also called dimethylbenzene.
Origin
1850-1855
1850-55; < Greek xýl(on) wood + -ene
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for xylene
  • Why would someone add xylene, toluene and other petrochemical products to a fracking mix.
  • xylene can be detected in the end-exhaled air, venous blood, and urine of exposed individuals.
British Dictionary definitions for xylene

xylene

/ˈzaɪliːn/
noun
1.
an aromatic hydrocarbon existing in three isomeric forms, all three being colourless flammable volatile liquids used as solvents and in the manufacture of synthetic resins, dyes, and insecticides; dimethylbenzene. Formula: C6H4(CH3)2 Also called xylol
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 xylene
n.

1851, from Greek xylon "wood," which is of unknown origin, + -ene.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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xylene in Science
xylene (zī-lēn', zī'lēn') also xylol
  (zī-lēn', zī'lēn')   
  1. A flammable hydrocarbon obtained from wood and coal tar. Xylene consists of a benzene ring with two methyl (CH3) groups attached, and occurs in three isomeric forms. It is used as a solvent, in jet fuel, and in the manufacture of dyes, fibers, perfumes, and films. Chemical formula: C8H10.

  2. A mixture of xylene isomers used as a solvent in making lacquers and rubber cement and as an aviation fuel.


The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Article for xylene

dimethylbenzene

any of three isomeric dimethylbenzenes [which have the same chemical formula, C6H4(CH3)2, but different molecular structure], used as solvents, as components of aviation fuel, and as raw materials for the manufacture of dyes, fibres, and films. The three isomers, designated ortho (o), meta (m), and para (p), differ structurally only in the location of the methyl groups. All three are obtained from coal-tar distillate and petroleum as a mixture containing 50-60 percent by volume of m-xylene and 20-25 percent of each of the other isomers. Fractional distillation of the mixture removes the meta and para isomers, which have very similar boiling points, from the less volatile ortho isomer. Upon cooling the mixture of meta and para isomers, much of the p-xylene crystallizes in nearly pure form. The meta isomer, the principal component of the remaining liquid, then can be purified by taking advantage of its solubility in a mixture of hydrofluoric acid and boron trifluoride. Meta- and para-xylene undergo nitration and reduction to give xylidines, used in making dyes. The meta isomer also is converted to trinitro-t-butyl-m-xylene, or xylene musk, a component of perfumes. Oxidation of the xylenes gives monocarboxylic acids (toluic acids), and then dicarboxylic acids (phthalic acids).

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