formic acid

for·​mic acid | \ ˈfȯr-mik- How to pronounce formic acid (audio) \

Definition of formic acid

: 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 Sharp, slightly vinegary formic acid is the one-carbon volatile acid, a chemical weapon found in ants and other insects but turned against them by the anteater, which relies on it to help digest them. Harold Mcgee, WSJ, "What Does Outer Space Smell Like?," 24 Oct. 2020 Both strategies allow the body to excrete the methanol before it’s turned into formic acid. Carrie Arnold, National Geographic, "Tainted sanitizers and bootleg booze are poisoning people," 19 Aug. 2020 Methanol is metabolized to formaldehyde, then to formic acid inside the body. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Toxic hand sanitizers have blinded and killed adults and children, FDA warns," 6 July 2020 Inside the body, methanol is metabolized to formaldehyde, then to formic acid. Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Toxic methanol that causes blindness found in hand sanitizers, FDA warns," 23 June 2020 Different species might sting their enemies, bite them with powerful jaws or shoot them with jets of formic acid. Cara Giaimo, New York Times, "These Ants Have a Revolutionary Escape Strategy," 13 Mar. 2020 Scientists have created a way to convert carbon dioxide, an important greenhouse gas, into formic acid. Jennifer Leman, Popular Mechanics, "Here's a Machine That Turns Carbon Dioxide Into Liquid Fuel," 4 Sep. 2019 Hart tells the Guardian that the birds can appear drunk after eating just a few of the insects, perhaps as a result of the formic acid found in the ants’ bodies. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Swarms of Flying Ants Overtaking Great Britain Show Up as Rain on Radar," 20 July 2019 When the Formica ants attack, the high-speed video would show these really quick bursts of formic acid being sprayed from their abdomens and splattering on the trap-jaw ants. Rachel Becker, The Verge, "High-speed video solves how Florida ants furnish their nests with their enemies’ bodies," 18 Nov. 2018

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

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First Known Use of formic acid

1790, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for formic acid

irregular from Latin formica ant — more at pismire

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Time Traveler for formic acid

Time Traveler

The first known use of formic acid was in 1790

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Statistics for formic acid

Last Updated

5 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Formic acid.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for formic acid

formic acid


Medical Definition of formic acid

: 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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