phenol Meaning, Definition & Usage

  1. noun any of a class of weakly acidic organic compounds; molecule contains one or more hydroxyl groups
  2. noun a toxic white soluble crystalline acidic derivative of benzene; used in manufacturing and as a disinfectant and antiseptic; poisonous if taken internally
    oxybenzene; hydroxybenzene; carbolic acid; phenylic acid.


Phe"nol noun
Gr. to show + -ol: cf. F. phénol.
  1. A white or pinkish crystalline substance, C6H5OH, produced by the destructive distillation of many organic bodies, as wood, coal, etc., and obtained from the heavy oil from coal tar. ✍ It has a peculiar odor, somewhat resembling creosote, which is a complex mixture of phenol derivatives. It is of the type of alcohols, and is called also phenyl alcohol, but has acid properties, and hence is popularly called carbolic acid, and was formerly called phenic acid. It is a powerful caustic poison, and in dilute solution has been used as an antiseptic.
  2. Any one of the series of hydroxyl derivatives of which phenol proper is the type.

Webster 1913