a colorless, flammable, gaseous alkene, HC:CH, obtained by the cracking of natural or coal gas, by the dehydration of alcohol, etc.: it is the simplest alkene and is used to synthesize organic chemicals, esp. polyethylene, to hasten the ripening of fruits, and as an anesthetic
Origin of ethyleneethyl + -ene
A colorless flammable gas, C2H4, derived from natural gas and petroleum and also occurring as a natural plant hormone, used as a source of many organic compounds, in welding and cutting metals, to ripen citrus fruits, and as an anesthetic. Also called ethene.