hy·​dro·​car·​bon ˈhī-drō-ˌkär-bən How to pronounce hydrocarbon (audio)
: 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 Cyclic aromatic hydrocarbons are chemicals that result from burning tobacco, coal, oil, gas, wood and garbage that are damaging to DNA. Akshay Syal, M.d., NBC News, 18 Nov. 2023 Climate-warming hydrocarbons still supply more than 80% of the world’s energy, even after the trillions of dollars spent in the green transition of the past 20 years, Rafael Grossi, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency told the U.N. General Assembly. Edith M. Lederer, Fortune, 9 Nov. 2023 This constant heating and cooling causes methane ice to sublimate, lifting a hydrocarbon haze into Pluto’s atmosphere. Discover Magazine, 26 Oct. 2023 For instance, the process to transform a hydrocarbon into a base chemical—used to make a drug’s active pharmaceutical ingredient—requires temperatures as high as 850 degrees Celsius (1,562 degrees Fahrenheit) and large amounts of electricity, the task force explained in a paper. Cecilia Butini, WSJ, 19 Oct. 2023 The beetles also collect hydrocarbons from the ants’ cuticle in order to smear themselves with the chemical signature specific to each ant nest. Viviane Callier, Scientific American, 27 Sep. 2023 Where today’s world runs on hydrocarbons, tomorrow’s may very well rely on the element for an expanding offering of lithium-ion batteries. Rahul Rao, Popular Science, 30 Aug. 2023 Capacity constraints will also limit Russian hydrocarbon exports to China. Foreign Affairs, 28 Apr. 2023 The damage allowed hydrocarbon fumes to vent from the storage tanks, contrary to Clean Air Act requirements, regulators said at the time. Yereth Rosen, Anchorage Daily News, 30 Aug. 2023 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1826, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of hydrocarbon was in 1826

Dictionary Entries Near hydrocarbon

Cite this Entry

“Hydrocarbon.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hydrocarbon. Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


hy·​dro·​car·​bon ˌhī-drə-ˈkär-bən How to pronounce hydrocarbon (audio)
: a compound containing only carbon and hydrogen

Medical Definition


hy·​dro·​car·​bon -ˈkär-bən How to pronounce hydrocarbon (audio)
: an organic compound (as acetylene, benzene, or butane) containing only carbon and hydrogen and often occurring in petroleum, natural gas, coal, and bitumens

More from Merriam-Webster on hydrocarbon

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