a substance used for washing and cleansing purposes, usually made by treating a fat with an alkali, as sodium or potassium hydroxide, and consisting chiefly of the sodium or potassium salts of the acids contained in the fat.
any metallic salt of an acid derived from a fat.
Slang. money, especially as used for bribery in politics.
Slang.. Also, soaper. soap opera.
verb (used with object)
to rub, cover, lather, or treat with soap.
no soap, Informal. no go: He wanted me to vote for him, but I told him no soap.

before 1000; Middle English sope, Old English sāpe, cognate with German Seife, Dutch zeep, all < West Germanic (perhaps ≫ Latin sāpō; cf. saponify)

soapless, adjective
soaplike, adjective
oversoap, verb (used with object)
unsoaped, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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World English Dictionary
soap (səʊp)
1.  See also detergent a cleaning or emulsifying agent made by reacting animal or vegetable fats or oils with potassium or sodium hydroxide. Soaps often contain colouring matter and perfume and act by emulsifying grease and lowering the surface tension of water, so that it more readily penetrates open materials such as textilesRelated: saponaceous
2.  See also metallic soap any metallic salt of a fatty acid, such as palmitic or stearic acid
3.  slang flattery or persuasive talk (esp in the phrase soft soap)
4.  informal short for soap opera
5.  slang (US), (Canadian) money, esp for bribery
6.  slang (US), (Canadian) no soap not possible or successful
vb (often foll by up)
7.  (tr) to apply soap to
8.  slang
 a.  to flatter or talk persuasively to
 b.  (US), (Canadian) to bribe
Related: saponaceous
[Old English sāpe; related to Old High German seipfa, Old French savon, Latin sāpō]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

O.E. sape "soap" (originally a reddish hair dye used by Gmc. warriors to give a frightening appearance), from W.Gmc. *saipo- "dripping thing, resin" (cf. M.L.G. sepe, W.Fris. sjippe, Du. zeep, O.H.G. seiffa, Ger. seife "soap," O.H.G. seifar "foam," O.E. sipian "to drip"), from PIE base *seib- "to pour
out, drip, trickle" (cf. L. sebum "tallow, suet, grease"). Romans and Greeks used oil to clean skin; the Romance language words for "soap" (cf. It. sapone, Fr. savon, Sp. jabon) are from L.L. sapo (first mentioned in Pliny), which is a Gmc. loan-word, as is Finnish saippua. The meaning "flattery" is recorded from 1853. The verb is first attested 1585. Soapstone (1681) is occasionally used for cleaning.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

soap (sōp)

  1. A cleansing agent made from a mixture of the sodium salts of various fatty acids of natural oils and fats.

  2. A metallic salt of a fatty acid, as of aluminum or iron.

soap v.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
soap   (sōp)  Pronunciation Key 
A substance used for washing or cleaning, consisting of a mixture of sodium or potassium salts of naturally occurring fatty acids. Like detergents, soaps work by surrounding particles of grease or dirt with their molecules, thereby allowing them to be carried away. Unlike detergents, soaps react with the minerals common in most water, forming an insoluble film that remains on fabrics. For this reason soap is not as efficient a cleaner as most detergents. The film is also what causes rings to form in bathtubs. Compare detergent.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Computing Dictionary

SOAP definition

1. Simple Object Access Protocol.
2. Symbolic Optimal Assembly Program.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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American Heritage
Abbreviations & Acronyms
  1. Society for Obstetric Anesthesia and Perinatology

  2. Spectrometric Oil Analysis Program

The American Heritage® Abbreviations Dictionary, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Bible Dictionary

Soap definition

(Jer. 2:22; Mal. 3:2; Heb. borith), properly a vegetable alkali, obtained from the ashes of certain plants, particularly the salsola kali (saltwort), which abounds on the shores of the Dead Sea and of the Mediterranean. It does not appear that the Hebrews were acquainted with what is now called "soap," which is a compound of alkaline carbonates with oleaginous matter. The word "purely" in Isa. 1:25 (R.V., "throughly;" marg., "as with lye") is lit. "as with _bor_." This word means "clearness," and hence also that which makes clear, or pure, alkali. "The ancients made use of alkali mingled with oil, instead of soap (Job 9:30), and also in smelting metals, to make them melt and flow more readily and purely" (Gesenius).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idiom beginning with soap, also see no dice (soap); on one's soapbox; soft soap.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
If you have spider mites, blast their webs apart with a jet of water from a
  hose and follow up with a spray of insecticidal soap.
Use plastic cleaner or dish soap with cotton towels to clean frame top as
They'd beat up kids for speaking their languages, or wash their mouths out with
But the book contained cyphers, and that does not seem to involve a soap opera
  with returning lovers, but something else.
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