terephthalic acid


tere·​phthal·​ic acid ˌter-ə(f)-ˈtha-lik- How to pronounce terephthalic acid (audio)
: a p-dicarboxylic acid C8H6O4 that is obtained especially by oxidation of xylene and is used chiefly in the synthesis of polyesters

Examples of terephthalic acid in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In something akin to a pressure cooker, the startup uses solvents, heat, and water whose pH has been raised to quickly liquify the polyester and break it into monomers—its basic components—of terephthalic acid (PTA) and ethylene glycol (EG). Ian Mount, Fortune, 16 Aug. 2022 The new material was durable and wrinkle resistant and easily made by combining ethylene glycol (the main ingredient in antifreeze) with terephthalic acid and then melting them together. Harris Quinn, Wired, 28 Dec. 2021 Circ uses a process called thermal hydrolysis that uses heat and pressure to break down polyester molecules into their original ingredients, ethylene glycol and terephthalic acid—a process known as depolymerization. Harris Quinn, Wired, 28 Dec. 2021 The organism produced two enzymes that together enabled it to feed on polyethylene terephthalate (PET) by breaking it into its building blocks, terephthalic acid and ethylene glycol. Warren Cornwall, Science | AAAS, 1 July 2021 Previous studies found enzymes could break down plastic bottles made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET) into terephthalic acid (TA). Elizabeth Gamillo, Smithsonian Magazine, 23 June 2021 In Kevlar, the chains of molecules—the long strings of terephthalic acid and other chemical compounds—line up parallel, like soldiers in a military parade. Kenneth R. Rosen, Wired, 6 Apr. 2020 The researchers behind its discovery showed that the enzyme degrades PET into mono(2-hydroxyethyl) terephthalic acid (MHET). The Economist, 16 Apr. 2018 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'terephthalic acid.' 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 terebene, mixture of terpenes from distilled turpentine + phthalic acid

First Known Use

1857, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of terephthalic acid was in 1857

Dictionary Entries Near terephthalic acid

Cite this Entry

“Terephthalic acid.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/terephthalic%20acid. Accessed 22 Sep. 2023.

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