One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A volatile liquid hydrocarbon obtained by distilling wood, coal tar, or petroleum, used in fuels and solvents and in chemical synthesis.
Alternative name: dimethylbenzene; chemical formula: C₆H₄(CH₃)₂; three isomers
- ‘Fuels such as petroleum are mixtures of various hydrocarbons, and may contain benzene, toluene, xylene, and styrene, and other components.’
- ‘But since the early 1920s, the oil companies have been blocking ethanol use - while using toxic substance like lead, benzene, toluene and xylene.’
- ‘Petroleum fuels contain several toxic compounds, including benzene, toluene and xylene - all considered carcinogens.’
- ‘If you do insist on using solvents, avoid low-flash point solvents like gasoline, xylene, lacquer thinner, etc. which are dangerously flammable.’
- ‘It was unpromising stuff, but Hofmann and others had discovered that by distillation one could separate from it several carbon-rich, odorous organic compounds such as benzene, toluene, xylene, and phenol.’
- ‘But many other chemicals linked to reproductive health problems, including xylene, trichloroethylene, phenols, and acetone, remain in use.’
Mid 19th century: from xylo- ‘of wood’ + -ene.
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