mer·​cap·​tan | \ (ˌ)mər-ˈkap-ˌtan How to pronounce mercaptan (audio) \

Definition of mercaptan

Examples of mercaptan in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Ethyl mercaptan, the stuff added to natural gas to make gas leaks easier to detect, has an odor detection threshold of just 1 or 2 micrograms per cubic meter. Randall Munroe, New York Times, "What’s the World’s Worst Smell?," 17 Feb. 2020 The leaks go undetected because few of the wells in the U.S. add mercaptan, a chemical that causes the distinct odor most associate with natural gas. Larry Buhl, The New Republic, "The Toxic-Gas Catastrophe Hiding Beneath Your Home," 8 July 2019 The former contains cynarin, a component that can make wine taste metallic, and the latter contains mercaptans, which can make a wine smell funky. Lettie Teague, WSJ, "Yes, You Can Pair Wine With Vegetables," 2 Aug. 2018 Vestal said the smell was consistent with mercaptan, the chemical that gives natural gas its pungent odor. Benjy Egel, sacbee, "What’s that smell? More than 120 callers report gas odor in eastern Sacramento County," 15 Dec. 2017 Two key factors helped highlight the Aliso Canyon leak: One, the gas was stored at the end of the supply chain and contained mercaptans, the odorous additives used to make leak detection easier in homes. National Geographic, "The World Is Hemorrhaging Methane, and Now We Can See Where," 13 Jan. 2016 Most could pick up the smell of methyl mercaptan, a sulfur compound released as our guts digest the vegetable. Thomas Goetz, WIRED, "23AndMe Will Decode Your DNA for $1,000. Welcome to the Age of Genomics," 17 Nov. 2007

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

1835, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for mercaptan

German, from Danish, from Medieval Latin mercurium captans, literally, seizing mercury

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Time Traveler for mercaptan

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The first known use of mercaptan was in 1835

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Cite this Entry

“Mercaptan.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

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mer·​cap·​tan | \ (ˌ)mər-ˈkap-ˌtan How to pronounce mercaptan (audio) \

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