hy·dro·car·bon | \ˈhī-drō-ˌkär-bən \

Definition of hydrocarbon 

: an organic compound (such as acetylene or butane) containing only carbon and hydrogen and often occurring in petroleum, natural gas, coal, and bitumens

Examples of hydrocarbon in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The company has 32 patents to develop bacteria which transforms sugar found in corn, beet, wheat straw and wood chips into isobutene, a hydrocarbon usually derived from oil, which ended up in the Audi engine. Bloomberg.com, "Your Regular Audi Could Run on Straw Soon," 17 Apr. 2018 These polyaromatic hydrocarbons are the the components of the stone that turned to diamond from the heat and pressure of entering Earth's atmosphere and then impacting the Sahara Desert. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "Incredible 'Hypatia' Stone Contains Compounds Not Found in the Solar System," 10 Jan. 2018 Titan, of Saturn, has an interior water ocean too, as well as liquid hydrocarbons on its surface. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Senior scientist argues that we should bypass Europa for Enceladus," 5 July 2018 If all goes well, a massive fireball of hydrocarbons will ignite in the New Mexico desert some time in the next year. Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic, "The Great Crude-Oil Fireball Test," 5 Feb. 2018 In the mid-1970s, Dale Flook applied for a patent on the concept of using a computer to monitor a process of catalytic conversion of hydrocarbons. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Why a 40-year-old SCOTUS ruling against software patents still matters today," 21 June 2018 Diakaridia Koulibaly, who was director-general of the National Office of Petroleum, will join the cabinet as minister in charge of hydrocarbons. Ougna Camara, Bloomberg.com, "Guinea Retains Mining Minister in Broad Cabinet Reshuffle," 26 May 2018 Now, Perry wants to add to that, bringing in U.S. pipeline developers to expand the play’s infrastructure and petrochemical companies to process the hydrocarbons once they’ve been moved out of the isolated shale fields. Jonathan Gilbert, Bloomberg.com, "Rick Perry Wants to Help Argentina Be More Like Texas," 16 June 2018 Dunes are found on Earth, Mars, Venus, Saturn’s moon Titan (where they’re made of hydrocarbons) and perhaps even the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Amina Khan, latimes.com, "Dunes of methane ice? Tiny Pluto's surface reveals big surprises," 1 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'hydrocarbon.' 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 hydrocarbon

1826, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

4 Oct 2018

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The first known use of hydrocarbon was in 1826

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More Definitions for hydrocarbon



English Language Learners Definition of hydrocarbon

: a substance (such as coal or natural gas) that contains only carbon and hydrogen


hy·dro·car·bon | \ˌhī-drə-ˈkär-bən \

Kids Definition of hydrocarbon

: a substance containing only carbon and hydrogen


hy·dro·car·bon | \-ˈkär-bən \

Medical Definition of hydrocarbon 

: an organic compound (as acetylene, benzene, or butane) containing only carbon and hydrogen and often occurring in petroleum, natural gas, coal, and bitumens

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More from Merriam-Webster on hydrocarbon

Spanish Central: Translation of hydrocarbon

Nglish: Translation of hydrocarbon for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about hydrocarbon

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