formic acid

noun

for·​mic acid ˈfȯr-mik- How to pronounce formic acid (audio)
: a colorless pungent fuming vesicant liquid acid CH2O2 found especially in ants and in many plants and used chiefly in dyeing and finishing textiles

Examples of formic acid in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The scientists experimented with formic acid, a molecule that ants generate as venom against predators. IEEE Spectrum, 3 Jan. 2024 The team also found simple molecules of formic acid, which causes the burning sensation associated with ant stings, as well as sulfur dioxide, methane and formaldehyde. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 15 Mar. 2024 The trees provide nectar and shelter for native ants, and to return the favor, these ants protect them from animals looking to take a bite to eat; whenever herbivores try to eat from the tree, the ants start biting and emitting formic acid to stave them off. Jack Knudson, Discover Magazine, 25 Jan. 2024 Moreover, formic acid is liquid at room temperature and pressure, simplifying its transportation when compared to hydrogen gas, Cortés adds. IEEE Spectrum, 3 Jan. 2024 Breaking down formic acid yields a molecule of hydrogen and of carbon dioxide. IEEE Spectrum, 3 Jan. 2024 Many animals have projectile weapons: some ants can spray formic acid; the bombardier beetles can spew immobilising glue. Ed Yong, Discover Magazine, 15 Dec. 2011 Similar plants normally contain small molecules such as histamine, acetylcholine and formic acid, but none of these cause the severe pain elicited by Gympie-Gympie trees, which suggested to researchers that there was an unidentified neurotoxin to be found. Harry Clarke-Ezzidio, CNN, 17 Sep. 2020 Gang of ants kill the island's iconic red land crabs by spraying them with formic acid; the crabs' annual migration, when millions of them scuttle to the sea, has been called one of the natural wonders of the world. Discover Magazine, 29 June 2010

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'formic 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

Etymology

irregular from Latin formica ant — more at pismire

First Known Use

1790, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of formic acid was in 1790

Dictionary Entries Near formic acid

Cite this Entry

“Formic acid.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/formic%20acid. Accessed 23 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

formic acid

noun
for·​mic acid ˌfȯr-mik- How to pronounce formic acid (audio)
: a colorless strong-smelling acid that irritates the skin, is found in insects (as ants) and in many plants, and is used chiefly in dyeing and finishing woven fabrics

Medical Definition

formic acid

noun
: a colorless pungent fuming vesicant liquid acid CH2O2 found especially in ants and in many plants and used chiefly in dyeing and finishing textiles

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