ni·​tro·​cel·​lu·​lose ˌnī-trō-ˈsel-yə-ˌlōs How to pronounce nitrocellulose (audio)
: any of several nitric-acid esters of cellulose used especially for making explosives, plastics, and varnishes

Examples of nitrocellulose in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web China is Russia’s top supplier of machine tools, microelectronics, and nitrocellulose – a highly flammable compound used to make munitions – and Mr. Blinken noted that the U.S. has already sanctioned more than 100 Chinese enterprises. Ann Scott Tyson, The Christian Science Monitor, 26 Apr. 2024 The nitrocellulose — or nitrate — used at the time as a base for filmmaking was quick to decompose and highly flammable; fires were not uncommon. Dan Barry, New York Times, 15 Mar. 2024 But nitrocellulose was a no-go for a matcha-sipping makeup pro. Maura Lynch, Allure, 21 Sep. 2023 The roles of solvent and film former are usually played by alcohol and nitrocellulose, respectively. Maura Lynch, Allure, 21 Sep. 2023 Next, Hyatt experimented with nitrocellulose, a material made by combining cotton or wood pulp with a mixture of nitric and sulfuric acids. Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, 26 June 2023 Demand for high-quality nitrocellulose membrane, the off-white fabric that forms the actual lateral flow test strip, has skyrocketed during the pandemic for test kits and its use in other medical devices. NBC News, 20 Jan. 2022 Other potential allergens in gel polish formulas include nitrocellulose, tosylamide formaldehyde, camphor, dibutyl pthalate, and solvents such as acetone or dyes, says Purvi Parikh, an allergist and immunologist with the Allergy & Asthma Network. Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, 22 Apr. 2021 For each explosion, the pyrotechnist produced a custom thermite mix from his extensive chemical library, wrapped it in nitrocellulose (flash paper), suspended it from a wire, and lit the fuse. Wired, 31 Oct. 2019

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

Word History


International Scientific Vocabulary

First Known Use

1868, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of nitrocellulose was in 1868

Dictionary Entries Near nitrocellulose

Cite this Entry

“Nitrocellulose.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2024.

Medical Definition


ni·​tro·​cel·​lu·​lose -ˈsel-yə-ˌlōs, -ˌlōz How to pronounce nitrocellulose (audio)

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