Definition of linolenic acid in US English:

linolenic acid


  • A polyunsaturated fatty acid (with one more double bond than linoleic acid) present as a glyceride in linseed and other oils and essential in the human diet.

    Chemical formula: C₁₇H₂₉COOH; several isomers, notably gamma-linolenic acid, present in evening primrose oil

    • ‘Linoleic and linolenic acid are essential fatty acids that are needed to make critical compounds in the body.’
    • ‘We must point out that two fatty acids are as important in the human diet as vitamins: linoleic and gamma-linolenic acid.’
    • ‘Sources of the essential fatty acid linolenic acid are soybean oil, canola oil, walnuts and flaxseed.’
    • ‘Manufacturers hydrogenate soybean oil to reduce its content of unsaturated fatty acids, particularly linolenic acid, the primary culprit responsible for causing food to become stale or rancid.’
    • ‘Since plants are capable of synthesizing linoleic and linolenic acid humans can acquire these fats by consuming a variety of plants or else by eating the meat of animals that have consumed these plant fats.’


Late 19th century: from German Linolensaüre, from Linolsaüre ‘linoleic acid’, with the insertion of -en- (from -ene).


linolenic acid