Definitions

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun One of a class of compounds analogous to alcohols, in which the group SH takes the place of hydroxyl.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Chem.) Any one of series of compounds having an -SH radical attached to a carbon atom, also considered as hydrosulphides of alcohol radicals, in composition resembling the alcohols, but containing sulphur in place of oxygen, and hence called also the sulphur alcohols. In general, they are colorless liquids having a strong, repulsive, garlic odor. The name is specifically applied to ethyl mercaptan, C2H5SH. So called from its avidity for mercury, and other metals.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun chemistry Any of a class of organic compounds of sulphur, ( R1.S.R2 ); they tend to be foul-smelling. When R2 is a hydrogen atom, they are termed thiols or thioalcohols.

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[German, from Danish, from Medieval Latin (corpus) mercurium captāns, (a substance) seizing mercury : mercurium, accusative of mercurius, mercury; see mercury + Latin captāns, present participle of captāre, frequentative of capere, to seize; see capture.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From German Mercaptan, coined from Latin mer(curius) ("mercury") captan(s) ("capturing").

Examples

  • "In case you weren't aware, methyl mercaptan is commonly used as an odorant in natural gas, the better to detect leaks at very low concentrations."

    Boing Boing: December 25, 2005 - December 31, 2005 Archives

  • But he did say they happen all the time, and oftentimes they add this chemical called mercaptan so that you can actually detect and smell the natural gas because normally you can't.

    CNN Transcript Jan 8, 2007

  • The no-smell folks might not be able to detect a compound related to the one in smelly asparagus pee, mercaptan, which is added to natural gas to make it noticeable.

    msnbc.com: Top msnbc.com headlines

  • One of those compounds is called methyl mercaptan, which is the same chemical which gives a skunk its defensive smell.

    Documenting Reality

  • Authors Mark Leyner and Dr. Billy Goldberg not only unravel that mystery (something to do with a sulfur compound called mercaptan), but '' hundreds of questions you'd only ask a doctor after your third martini '' -- which happens to be the book's subtitle.

    Entertainment Weekly's PopWatch

  • Authors Mark Leyner and Dr. Billy Goldberg not only unravel that mystery (something to do with a sulfur compound called mercaptan), but '' hundreds of questions you'd only ask a doctor after your third martini '' -- which happens to be the book's subtitle.

    Entertainment Weekly's PopWatch

  • Authors Mark Leyner and Dr. Billy Goldberg not only unravel that mystery (something to do with a sulfur compound called mercaptan), but '' hundreds of questions you'd only ask a doctor after your third martini '' -- which happens to be the book's subtitle.

    Entertainment Weekly's PopWatch

  • Authors Mark Leyner and Dr. Billy Goldberg not only unravel that mystery (something to do with a sulfur compound called mercaptan), but '' hundreds of questions you'd only ask a doctor after your third martini '' -- which happens to be the book's subtitle.

    Entertainment Weekly's PopWatch

  • Authors Mark Leyner and Dr. Billy Goldberg not only unravel that mystery (something to do with a sulfur compound called mercaptan), but '' hundreds of questions you'd only ask a doctor after your third martini '' -- which happens to be the book's subtitle.

    Entertainment Weekly's PopWatch

  • Authors Mark Leyner and Dr. Billy Goldberg not only unravel that mystery (something to do with a sulfur compound called mercaptan), but '' hundreds of questions you'd only ask a doctor after your third martini '' -- which happens to be the book's subtitle.

    Entertainment Weekly's PopWatch

Comments

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  • a thiol

    October 26, 2007

  • Sionnach, this reminds me of the day, years ago, when I was driving my jalopy through downtown Philadelphia with my roommate and friend, who was at the time studying to be a biochemist. Suddenly she sniffs the air and says, "Is your car okay? I smell a thiol."

    "A what?" I say, alarmed.

    "A thiol."

    "What's that?" I say, even more alarmed, looking in my rearview mirror for smoke, flames, terrorized pedestrians.

    "Oh, well...it's a sulfur-containing organic compound having the general formula RSH...."

    "NO! WHAT'S WRONG WITH MY CAR??" I fairly bellow.

    "Oh. Maybe you want to check for an antifreeze leak?"

    Eesh.

    October 26, 2007

  • "In the mingitorio a stench like mercaptan clapped yellow hands on his face..."

    - Lowry, Under the Volcano

    June 25, 2011