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[koz-met-ik] /kɒzˈmɛt ɪk/
a powder, lotion, lipstick, rouge, or other preparation for beautifying the face, skin, hair, nails, etc.
cosmetics, superficial measures to make something appear better, more attractive, or more impressive:
The budget committee opted for cosmetics instead of a serious urban renewal plan.
serving to beautify; imparting or improving beauty, especially of the face.
used or done superficially to make something look better, more attractive, or more impressive:
Alterations in the concert hall were only cosmetic and did nothing to improve the acoustics.
1595-1605; < Greek kosmētikós relating to adornment, equivalent to kosmēt(ós) adorned, arranged (verbid of kosmeîn, derivative of kósmos order, arrangement) + -ikos -ic
Related forms
cosmetically, adverb
anticosmetics, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for cosmetics
  • We ended up with a stack of creamy white and light yellow wax discs to use in cosmetics.
  • There's plastic in cosmetics that we're rubbing into our skins to exfoliate.
  • While the hair accessories seem to be doing well, the cosmetics have been selling more slowly.
  • It's even been used in many cosmetics that many of you have probably put on your face, as it works as an anti-aging remedy.
  • Makers of cosmetics also mix this natural substance with other botanical ingredients.
  • Oil from the tree's fruit is used in consumer products such as chocolate, soap, cookies and cosmetics.
  • Some cosmetics firms have stopped using shark squalene or are phasing it out following pressure from conservation groups.
  • Packed with her perfumes and cosmetics were a group of mirrors in graduated sizes.
  • Instead, it will to focus on higher value products, such as moisturizers for cosmetics.
  • The squalene added to food, cosmetics, and health supplements is generally derived from shark liver oil.
British Dictionary definitions for cosmetics


any preparation applied to the body, esp the face, with the intention of beautifying it
serving or designed to beautify the body, esp the face
having no other function than to beautify: cosmetic illustrations in a book
(derogatory) designed to cover up a greater flaw or deficiency; superficial: their resignation is a cosmetic exercise
Derived Forms
cosmetically, adverb
cosmeticology, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Greek kosmētikos, from kosmein to arrange, from kosmos order
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cosmetics



c.1600, "art of beautifying," from Latinized form of Greek kosmetike (tekhne) "the art of dress and ornament," from fem. of kosmetikos (see cosmetic (adj.)). Meaning "a preparation for beautifying" attested from 1640s (now often cosmetics).


1640s, from French cosmétique (16c.), from Greek kosmetikos "skilled in adornment or arrangement," from kosmein "to arrange, adorn," from kosmos "order" (see cosmos). Figurative sense of "superficial" is from 1955. Related: Cosmetically.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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cosmetics in Medicine

cosmetic cos·met·ic (kŏz-mět'ĭk)
A preparation, such as powder or a skin cream, designed to beautify the body by direct application. adj.

  1. Serving to beautify the body, especially the face and hair.

  2. Serving to modify or improve the appearance of a physical feature, defect, or irregularity.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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