Definition of polythene in English:



  • [mass noun] A tough, light flexible synthetic resin made by polymerizing ethylene, chiefly used for plastic bags, food containers, and other packaging.

    ‘strips of black polythene’
    [as modifier] ‘a polythene bag’
    • ‘Polyethylene, or polythene as it was marketed in Britain, began as a polymer with little practical use.’
    • ‘I then covered the whole thing up with some black polythene.’
    • ‘Bring back memories through photographs and videotapes, but never leave behind plastics and polythene, is the appeal from YHAI.’
    • ‘Material was brought back to the laboratory in polythene bags and maintained in a metabolically active condition in one of two ways.’
    • ‘Women will sit for hours in the kitchen portioning the meat into small polythene bags ready for distribution among family, friends and neighbours.’
    • ‘New plastics were invented such as neoprene in 1932, polythene in 1933 and Perspex in 1934.’
    • ‘But he used melted polythene plastics as binding material instead of cement in preparing slabs.’
    • ‘A ripped parcel arrived inside a post office polythene bag, but fortunately our beer was uninjured in the accident.’
    • ‘Many anglers are switching from nylon monofilament line to gel spun polythene lines such as Power Pro or Fireline.’
    • ‘Examination of an 18 ft whale washed up on a beach on Mull earlier this year found its stomach was filled with polythene bags, which may have contributed to its death.’
    • ‘A total of 10 counters functioned to issue tickets and a strict vigil was maintained to stop the visitors from carrying polythene bags.’
    • ‘It also contained a large polythene bag of shavings through which were visible vast, looming rhizomes, dark brown, with filaments.’
    • ‘I recall the poinsettia being the most labour intensive, involving complicated light control and messing about with black polythene bags.’
    • ‘The lake has been found littered with polythene bags and plastic bottles.’
    • ‘Polymerization at high pressures or in the presence of a catalyst can produce polythene.’
    • ‘They have called instead for measures to promote the production of degradable polythene and to instal plastic recycling plants.’
    • ‘All were maintained, as needed, either dry in a cold room at 5°C, or fully hydrated in polythene bags in a north-facing laboratory window.’
    • ‘In the dappled light, woven flax fans became fish and hanging strips of polythene were swaying palm trees, reeds or bamboo.’
    • ‘Heavy-duty black polythene sheeting was applied as required to keep the submerged parts of the shoot and root in darkness.’
    • ‘Quite why a couple of carrots and a swede need to be packaged on a plastic tray with a polythene shrink wrap is something only supermarkets can explain.’


1930s: contraction of polyethylene.