Definition of picric acid in US English:

picric acid


  • A bitter yellow compound obtained by nitrating phenol, used as a dye and in the manufacture of explosives.

    Alternative name: 2,4,6-trinitrophenol; chemical formula: C₆H₂(NO₂)₃OH

    • ‘Other possible inhibitors are unusual fixatives, such as B5 or any solution containing picric acid.’
    • ‘Nitrogen is an important component of common chemical explosives like TNT, nitroglycerin, gunpowder, guncotton, nitrocellulose, picric acid, and ammonium nitrate.’
    • ‘Marks recounts how some painted their legs and arms vivid yellow with picric acid to protect against sunburn.’
    • ‘In addition, some of the chemicals could be hazardous: picric acid was explosive, and the arsenic compounds could be toxic to the wearer.’
    • ‘A council report carried out by Environmental Health officers picked out hot-spots of contamination with cancer-causing asbestos spores and toxic picric acid among the chemicals identified.’


Mid 19th century: picric from Greek pikros ‘bitter’ + -ic.


picric acid

/ˌpikrik ˈasid/