Definition of naphthalene in English:



  • A volatile white crystalline compound produced by the distillation of coal tar, used in mothballs and as a raw material for chemical manufacture.

    • ‘The 500th report is on ordinary naphthalene, the principle ingredient in mothballs and the familiar odor in millions of closets filled with winter's woolens.’
    • ‘In one method, naphthalene is oxidized with vanadium pentoxide to give phthalic anhydride.’
    • ‘Common aromatic compounds other than benzene include toluene, naphthalene, and anthracene, all of which are present in coal tar or creosote.’
    • ‘Pyrene can be absorbed through the skin, the respiratory tract, and the gastrointestinal tract, whereas naphthalene is mainly absorbed by inhalation.’
    • ‘The raw materials for today's dyes are mainly aromatic hydrocarbons: benzene, toluene, naphthalene, anthracene, pyrene, and others.’


Early 19th century: from naphtha + -ene, with the insertion of -l- for ease of pronunciation.