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 Comparing landfills and incinerators requires a difficult calculus: weighing globe-warming methane emissions from burying trash against harmful dioxins and other chemicals released by burning it. Christine Condon,, 1 July 2021 Human activity accounts for 60% of global methane emissions, and emissions from the fossil fuel industry—mostly leaks at natural gas facilities—contribute about 35% of that. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, 30 June 2021 The Trump administration also loosened rules on methane emissions from leaks and flares in oil and gas wells. Josh Boak, Star Tribune, 30 June 2021 There have been questions about the effect fracking has on drinking water and methane emissions, and it has been tied to a rise in earthquakes. Gregory Wallace, CNN, 15 June 2021 Cook Inlet operations show a fairly high rate of methane emissions, compared to many of the company’s U.S. counterparts, Fleischman said. Alex Demarban, Anchorage Daily News, 4 June 2021 But they’re pushed on us anyway because robots can grow plants easily without herding methane-spewing cattle. Andy Kessler, WSJ, 16 May 2021 SpaceX launched its latest Starship prototype Wednesday evening, sending the methane-fueled rocket up to an altitude of about 6 miles. William Harwood, CBS News, 6 May 2021 There’s enough viable wet waste to replace 20 percent of overall airplane fuel, which also means diverting the wet waste from the methane-producing landfill cycle. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, 17 Mar. 2021

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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Time Traveler for methane

Time Traveler

The first known use of methane was in 1867

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Statistics for methane

Last Updated

23 Jul 2021

Cite this Entry

“Methane.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jul. 2021.

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More Definitions for methane



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

More from Merriam-Webster on methane

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


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