One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A salt or ester of hydrocyanic acid, containing the anion CN⁻ or the group —CN. The salts are generally extremely toxic.Compare with nitrile
- ‘The case hardening medium is a molten, nitrogen-bearing, fused-salt bath containing either cyanides or cyanates.’
- ‘The few exceptions to this definition are the oxides of carbon, the carbonates, the cyanides (compounds of carbon, nitrogen, and at least one more element), and a few other families of compounds.’
- ‘This may be true, but chemically the cyanide will adsorb onto a cell membrane increasing the electron donor or antioxidant capacity of the cell.’
- ‘Both cyanides and nitriles have the general formula RCN with a triple bond between the carbon and nitrogen (R-CN).’
- ‘The spectra that are observed indicate that small molecules, such as cyanide, methane, and cyanogen, can assemble in outer space.’
- 1.1mass noun Sodium or potassium cyanide used as a poison or in the extraction of gold and silver.
- ‘In countries like Indonesia and Vietnam coral reefs are being poisoned with cyanide and stripped of their fish to satisfy this voracious live fish food trade.’
- ‘Pharmacologists said it was possible, though difficult, to extract cyanide from potassium ferrocyanide, a compound found in wine and ink.’
- ‘The committee was also worried that the gold will be extracted using cyanide which would cause irreparable damage to the East Rhodope Mountains.’
- ‘While he was recovering in hospital, someone somehow poisoned him with cyanide.’
- ‘How are you applying this technique to something which has been so much in the news recently and that is the question of cyanide used for the extraction of gold?’
Early 19th century: from cyanogen + -ide.
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