tol·​u·​ene | \ ˈtäl-yə-ˌwēn \

Definition of toluene

: a liquid aromatic hydrocarbon C7H8 that resembles benzene but is less volatile, flammable, and toxic and is used especially as a solvent, in organic synthesis, and as an antiknock agent for gasoline

Examples of toluene in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Writers often cite a 2009 study by South Carolina State University researchers that claimed that paraffin wax releases harmful chemicals such as toluene. Sam Gutierrez, House Beautiful, "Are Your Favorite Candles Slowly Poisoning You?," 26 Dec. 2018 Some polishes include potential cancer-causing chemicals like dibutyl phthalate, toluene and formaldehyde. Elizabeth Denton, Seventeen, "13 Things You Need To Know Before Getting a Gel Manicure," 16 July 2018 Overexposure to benzenes, toluene, herbicides, pesticides, organic solvents, painting materials and lead might contribute to low sperm counts and exposure to x-rays or other radiation might alter sperm production, according to the Mayo Clinic. Mari A. Schaefer,, "Study: Nutrition in nuts may help boost sperm count," 10 July 2018 His team first tried recreating the 1986 experiment, in which researchers got T. auensis to make toluene. Robert F. Service, Science | AAAS, "In 1986, scientists found fuel-producing bacteria at the bottom of a Swiss lake. Now, they know how it works," 21 Mar. 2018 The shade, named for the flowering shrub, gives just a pop of color and is eight-free — no formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, formaldehyde resin, camphor, xylene, ethyl tosylamide, triphenyl phosphate and parabens — vegan and cruelty free. Atlanta Life, ajc, "Eyecatchers," 22 Mar. 2018 The observed barrels are falling apart, and the soil and groundwater around them tests high for related contaminants toluene, chlorobenzene, phenol and heavy metals, according to DEQ documents. Keith Matheny, Detroit Free Press, "At Detroit River site, DEQ continues to dig up old Chrysler plant's buried, polluted past," 22 Mar. 2018 Trade in the paraffin kind, which can release icky chemicals like alkens and toluene, for a cleaner burn with beeswax. Allison Young, Sunset, "Top 10 Holistic Home Products," 22 Jan. 2018 Harmful chemicals such as toluene in aerosols and difluoroethane in compressed air cleaners are what cause the high, which lasts for a few minutes. Kashmira Gander, Newsweek, "What Is Huffing? Man Found Dead in New York Beside 22 Aerosol Cans and One in His Mouth," 19 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'toluene.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of toluene

1855, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for toluene

French toluène, from tolu balsam from the tropical American tree Myroxylon balsamum, from Spanish tolú, from Santiago de Tolú, Colombia

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about toluene

Statistics for toluene

Last Updated

10 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for toluene

The first known use of toluene was in 1855

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for toluene


tol·​u·​ene | \ ˈtäl-yə-ˌwēn \

Medical Definition of toluene

: a liquid aromatic hydrocarbon C7H8 that resembles benzene but is less volatile, flammable, and toxic and is used as a solvent, in organic synthesis, and as an antiknock agent for gasoline

called also methylbenzene

More from Merriam-Webster on toluene Encyclopedia article about toluene

Comments on toluene

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


to express emotion in a dramatic way

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!