acetic acid


ace·​tic acid ə-ˈsē-tik- How to pronounce acetic acid (audio)
: a colorless pungent liquid acid C2H4O2 that is the chief acid of vinegar and that is used especially in synthesis (as of plastics)

Examples of acetic acid in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web And as people seek more eco-friendly (and cheaper) products, the versatile pantry staple, which contains acetic acid and water, is gaining even more traction. Stacey Colino, Washington Post, 6 Mar. 2024 The wood waste is heated in an oxygen-free environment, yielding black pigment and just a few benign byproducts: wood vinegar, which can be sold on to the acetic acid industry; steam, which can be used to power parts of the equipment; and a biogas, which can also be used to power the equipment. Alden Wicker, WIRED, 20 Nov. 2023 In the second step, the acetaldehyde becomes acetic acid. Stephanie Breijo, Los Angeles Times, 22 Nov. 2023 Starters made using teff, amaranth, and buckwheat were all lacking the acetic acid bacteria. Laura Baisas, Popular Science, 12 Oct. 2023 But when Sneddon dissolved painkillers in the plain chamber, the fish that had been injected with acetic acid left the enriched tank for, presumably, the pain relief offered by the other chamber. Avery Hurt, Discover Magazine, 9 June 2023 Similarly, vinegar's active component, acetic acid, is a natural antiseptic that breaks down bacterial DNA and proteins. Leo Deluca, Scientific American, 1 Oct. 2023 Made from organic, non-GMO apples and combined with the versatility of other natural ingredients such as ginger and turmeric, Elm & Rye's apple cider vinegar is a potent source of acetic acid that's key to experiencing the full benefits of this supplement. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 7 June 2023 Oxidation can easily change the wine taste, increasing its levels of acetic acid and turning its flavors flat. Nina Moskowitz, Bon Appétit, 4 Aug. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'acetic acid.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


acetic borrowed from French acétique, from Latin acētum "sour wine, vinegar" (noun derivative from *acētus, verbal adjective of acēre "to be sour," going back to Indo-European h2eḱ-eh1- "to be sharp") + French -ique -ic entry 1 — more at edge entry 1

First Known Use

1788, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of acetic acid was in 1788

Dictionary Entries Near acetic acid

Cite this Entry

“Acetic acid.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

acetic acid

: a colorless strong-smelling liquid acid that gives the sour taste to vinegar and that is used especially in making chemical compounds (as plastics)

Medical Definition

acetic acid

: a colorless pungent liquid acid C2H4O2 that is the chief acid of vinegar and that is used especially in synthesis (as of plastics) and occasionally in medicine as an astringent and styptic

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