Definition of cyanide in English:



  • 1Chemistry
    A salt or ester of hydrocyanic acid, containing the anion CN⁻ or the group —CN. The salts are generally extremely toxic.

    • ‘Both cyanides and nitriles have the general formula RCN with a triple bond between the carbon and nitrogen (R-CN).’
    • ‘The few exceptions to this definition are the oxides of carbon, the carbonates, the cyanides (compounds of carbon, nitrogen, and at least one more element), and a few other families of compounds.’
    • ‘The case hardening medium is a molten, nitrogen-bearing, fused-salt bath containing either cyanides or cyanates.’
    • ‘This may be true, but chemically the cyanide will adsorb onto a cell membrane increasing the electron donor or antioxidant capacity of the cell.’
    • ‘The spectra that are observed indicate that small molecules, such as cyanide, methane, and cyanogen, can assemble in outer space.’
    1. 1.1mass noun Sodium or potassium cyanide used as a poison or in the extraction of gold and silver.
      • ‘How are you applying this technique to something which has been so much in the news recently and that is the question of cyanide used for the extraction of gold?’
      • ‘While he was recovering in hospital, someone somehow poisoned him with cyanide.’
      • ‘The committee was also worried that the gold will be extracted using cyanide which would cause irreparable damage to the East Rhodope Mountains.’
      • ‘Pharmacologists said it was possible, though difficult, to extract cyanide from potassium ferrocyanide, a compound found in wine and ink.’
      • ‘In countries like Indonesia and Vietnam coral reefs are being poisoned with cyanide and stripped of their fish to satisfy this voracious live fish food trade.’


Early 19th century from cyanogen+ -ide.