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acrylic fibre

Can someone please tell me why the dictionary I’m using includes the term acrylic fibre, but not the word acrylic? Acrylic is a perfectly good word on it’s own. And you can’t define acrylic fibre without including a definition of acrylic buried directly or indirectly (I’m going to do it directly) within it, so why isn’t there an entry for acrylic? I don’t get it.

Acrylic fibre is textile fibre made by polymerizing acrylonitrile. Oh, well that was a lot of help, now wasn’t it?

Acrylonitrile is a smelly, toxic liquid used to make textile fibers. Smelly? Toxic? Oh, great. That doesn’t quite sound like something I want to put next to my body and have on while I parade around in public.

To polymerize means to combine or cause to combine to create … wait for it … a polymer. Gee thanks, Mr. or Ms. dictionary maker. That helped.

A polymer is a substance with a molecular structure made up mostly or completely of a bunch or similar units bonded together. Um, OK. Good enough for me. If you’re a chemistry major you’ll hopefully understand a little more about it. If not, it’s time for you to hit the books if you expect to graduate at some time.

It seems that textile manufacturers have pretty well taken care of the pungent characteristic of acrylonitrile. I usually don’t detect an offensive smell in acrylic clothes. I assume they’ve also taken care of the toxic problem because clothing manufacturers wouldn’t sell us anything that might harm us, would they?

If you wear clothes made of acrylic fibers expect “all natural” fiber snobs to look down on you because chemical processes went into the making of your clothes. Heaven forbid.

That may be so, but your clothes probably came out of the drier without a crease in them. Theirs probably wouldn’t. Instead, they may deal with the wrinkle problem by sending their clothes to a dry cleaner that pumps chemicals into their garments and into the environment. Oh, yeah. That’s so much better than acrylic fibers.

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