: any of a series of saturated aliphatic hydrocarbons CnH2n+2 (as methane)—called also paraffin
Any of a class of hydrocarbons whose molecules consist only of carbon and hydrogen atoms joined by single covalent bonds (general formula CH). The simplest is methane (CH). Alkanes with more than three carbon atoms may have straight and branched isomers. Cycloalkanes have ring structures (but are not aromatic compounds) with two fewer hydrogen atoms per molecule than the corresponding alkane; many have more than one ring. Commercial sources include petroleum and natural gas. Uses, often as mixtures, include fuels, solvents, and raw materials. See alsoparaffin.