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polyethene (polythene, polyethylene) Polymer of ethene. It is a partially crystalline, lightweight, thermoplastic resin with high resistance to chemicals, low moisture absorption and good insulating properties. Low-density polyethene (LDPE) was first produced in the 1930s. It is mainly used in the manufacture of plastic bags. High-density polyethene (HDPE), synthesized in the 1950s, is more flexible and is used for mouldings.