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type of plastic widely used early 20c., 1909, from German Bakelit, named for Belgian-born U.S. physicist Leo Baekeland (1863-1944), who invented it. Originally a proprietary name, it is formed by the condensation of a phenol with an aldehyde.
synthetic resin formed from the chemical combination of phenols and formaldehydes. Bakelite is a hard, infusible, and chemically resistant plastic whose properties as a nonconductor of electricity have made it exceptionally useful in all sorts of electrical appliances. It is used in many industrial applications as an electrical insulator, in molding and casting operations, as an adhesive, and in paints and baked-enamel coatings. Phenol-formaldehyde resins are indispensable in manufacturing chemical equipment, machine and instrument housings, bottle closures, and many machine and electrical components.