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

  • n. A sulfur-containing organic compound with the general formula RSH where R is any radical, especially ethyl mercaptan, C2H5SH. Also called thiol.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. 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.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. 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 The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

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


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").



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

    - Lowry, Under the Volcano

    June 25, 2011

  • 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,'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?"


    October 26, 2007

  • a thiol

    October 26, 2007