Definition of mercaptan in English:



  • another term for thiol
    • ‘Even a healthy animal not exposed to noxious substances will have some toxins present in the body (e.g., mercaptans, short-chain fatty acids, skatoles, indoles, ketone bodies).’
    • ‘In the pure science section is the data surrounding the two chemicals ethyl mercaptan and butyl sereno-mercaptan which smell of a combination of rotting cabbage, garlic, onions, burned toast and sewers.’
    • ‘Asparagus contains a sulphur containing compound called mercaptan, and some individuals have an enzyme that quickly breaks down the mercaptan into byproducts which are also found in rotten eggs, skunk spray, onions and garlic.’
    • ‘Ethyl acetate, hydrogen sulphide, mercaptans, excess sulphur dioxide, and the smellable compounds generated by some bacteria all can be reasons for judging a wine faulty.’
    • ‘The coal tar smell, caused by mercaptans (sulphur containing compounds), was disagreeable but the concentrations on site would not cause health problems’


Mid 19th century: from modern Latin mercurium captans, literally ‘capturing mercury’.