meth·​ane | \ ˈme-ˌthān How to pronounce methane (audio) , British usually ˈmē-\

Definition of methane

: a colorless odorless flammable gaseous hydrocarbon CH4 that is a product of biological decomposition of organic matter and of the carbonization of coal, is used as a fuel and as a starting material in chemical synthesis, and is the simplest of the alkanes

Examples of methane in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

During the fracking process, harmful chemicals, like toxic methane, can seep out of the earth and into the surrounding land and water. Megan Ditrolio, Marie Claire, "Fracking: The Environmental Crisis in Our Backyard," 13 June 2018 Curiosity's methane measurements occurred over 4 ½ Earth years, covering parts of three Martian years. Marcia Dunn,, "New Mars discoveries in ancient lakebed advance case for possible life," 7 June 2018 For instance, using this method astronomers have learned that HR 8799e is a hot, inhospitable world made of carbon monoxide and methane. Avery Thompson, Popular Mechanics, "New Method For Studying Exoplanets Could Tell Us Far More About Alien Worlds," 29 Mar. 2019 And even for distant ice giants swaddled in methane gas, summer means storms. Jill Kiedaisch, Popular Mechanics, "Hubble Observes Ice Giant Vortexes and Polar Storms on Neptune and Uranus," 9 Feb. 2019 The Curiosity rover is providing additional details of Mars' methane, scientists confirmed Thursday. Fox News, "Massive Mars discovery: Organic molecules 'fundamental to our search for life' found by NASA rover," 2 Oct. 2018 Photo: Jesse Newman/The Wall Street Journal Several peers operate digesters that reduce pathogens in manure and produce methane that can be burned to produce electricity. Jesse Newman And Patrick Mcgroarty, WSJ, "Farms, More Productive Than Ever, Are Poisoning Drinking Water in Rural America," 18 Jan. 2019 Studies consistently show that animal agriculture is the most carbon-intensive type of farming, in part because livestock such as cows and sheep produce methane as part of their digestive processes. Caitlin Dewey,, "The U.S. diet is a climate disaster. Here are 4 fixes that don't involve becoming a vegan.," 11 June 2018 At the sites, researchers found explosively high methane concentrations and chunks of earth littering the periphery for thousands of feet. Bridget Alex, Discover Magazine, "Something Stirs: What Will Happen as Permafrost Thaws?," 15 May 2018

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

1867, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for methane

International Scientific Vocabulary

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Statistics for methane

Last Updated

26 Apr 2019

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Time Traveler for methane

The first known use of methane was in 1867

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English Language Learners Definition of methane

: a colorless gas that has no smell and that can be burned for fuel


meth·​ane | \ ˈmeth-ˌān, British usually ˈmē-ˌthān\

Medical Definition of methane

: a colorless, odorless, flammable, gaseous hydrocarbon CH4 that is lighter than air, forms explosive mixtures with air or oxygen, and occurs naturally as a by-product of the decomposition of organic matter by anaerobic bacteria

called also marsh gas

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More from Merriam-Webster on methane

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with methane

Spanish Central: Translation of methane

Nglish: Translation of methane for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about methane

Comments on methane

What made you want to look up methane? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a strong desire or propensity

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