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 Land-use change and its close associate, the livestock sector, produce vast quantities of methane—a greenhouse gas that is many, many times more potent than CO2. Troy Vettese, The New Republic, "An Inconvenient Lesson From the Pandemic: We Have to Stop Eating Meat," 31 July 2020 Even for gases with shorter atmospheric life spans, such as methane, fast action doesn't necessarily result in a quick payoff. Chelsea Harvey, Scientific American, "Slash CO2, Then Wait—and Wait—for Temperatures to Drop," 9 July 2020 The states, cities and EDF sued the EPA in 2018 over its failure to regulate existing sources of methane. Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner, "Daily on Energy: Clearing up confusion about House GOP stance on net-zero emissions by 2050 target," 7 July 2020 Pockets of methane created by decomposing garbage routinely bursts, shaking the island and endangering anyone around. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, "Turn Rikers Island Into a Solar Farm," 19 June 2020 The coalition’s filing comes as the EPA is nearing release of plans that would eliminate requirements to directly regulate methane from the oil and gas sector. Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner, "Daily on Energy: Clearing up confusion about House GOP stance on net-zero emissions by 2050 target," 7 July 2020 But methane could come from renewable resources, too. Emily Grubert, The Conversation, "‘Renewable’ natural gas may sound green, but it’s not an antidote for climate change," 6 July 2020 Recent research by Schuur and others shows that warmer temperatures allow microbes within the soil to convert permafrost carbon into carbon dioxide and methane. Washington Post, "Rapid Arctic meltdown in Siberia alarms scientists," 3 July 2020 The work comes as three US rocket companies, SpaceX, United Launch Alliance, and Blue Origin, are building their next-generation rockets around methane engines. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Russia’s replacement for the Proton rocket costs way too much," 29 June 2020

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

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The first known use of methane was in 1867

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Statistics for methane

Last Updated

3 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Methane.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for methane


How to pronounce methane (audio)

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

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