ace·​to·​ni·​trile | \ ə-ˌsē-tō-ˈnī-trəl How to pronounce acetonitrile (audio) , ˌa-sə-tō-, -ˌtrī(-ə)l \

Definition of acetonitrile

: the colorless liquid nitrile CH3CN of acetic acid used chiefly in organic synthesis and as a solvent

Examples of acetonitrile in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Back then, American Cyanamid in Waggaman — now Cornerstone Chemicals — had been disposing of more than 11 million pounds of the noxious solvent acetonitrile down injection wells. Mark Schleifstein, ProPublica, 30 Oct. 2012 To identify the unique neurotoxin, the biologists cut out the venom ducts from several snails, froze them, pulverized them, and then extracted the peptides from the pulp with a mixture of water and the solvent acetonitrile. Aaron Rowe, WIRED, 11 July 2007

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'acetonitrile.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of acetonitrile

1848, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for acetonitrile

borrowed from German Acetonitril, from aceto- aceto- + Nitril nitrile

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About acetonitrile

Time Traveler for acetonitrile

Time Traveler

The first known use of acetonitrile was in 1848

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near acetonitrile

acetone oil



See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for acetonitrile

Cite this Entry

“Acetonitrile.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Sep. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for acetonitrile


ace·​to·​ni·​trile | \ ˌas-ə-tō-ˈnī-trəl How to pronounce acetonitrile (audio) , ə-ˈsēt-ō- How to pronounce acetonitrile (audio) , -ˌtrēl How to pronounce acetonitrile (audio) \

Medical Definition of acetonitrile

: the colorless liquid nitrile CH3CN of acetic acid usually made by dehydration of acetamide and used chiefly in organic synthesis and as a solvent

called also methyl cyanide

More from Merriam-Webster on acetonitrile Encyclopedia article about acetonitrile


Test Your Vocabulary

Dog Words Quiz

  • shiba puppy more or less demanding cuddles
  • Which of the following animals has a dog in its etymology?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!