Definition of nitrile in English:



  • An organic compound containing a cyanide group —CN bound to an alkyl group.

    • ‘These toxins include nitriles, isothiocyanates, oxozaladines, and epithioalkanes.’
    • ‘But common nitriles, such as hydrogen cyanide have masses more similar to nitrogen or methane, making them harder to pick out of the INMS results with only one night's study.’
    • ‘They also rejected bridgehead double bonds and allenes, and (to my surprise) only allowed triple bonds for nitriles (so no acetylenes.)’
    • ‘In this reaction, an ester joins with another ester, a ketone, or a nitrile.’
    • ‘Secondary and tertiary amides are prepared by reacting primary amides or nitriles with organic acids.’


Mid 19th century: from nitre + -ile (alteration of -yl).