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[lak-er] /ˈlæk ər/
a protective coating consisting of a resin, cellulose ester, or both, dissolved in a volatile solvent, sometimes with pigment added.
any of various resinous varnishes, especially a resinous varnish obtained from a Japanese tree, Rhus verniciflua, used to produce a highly polished, lustrous surface on wood or the like.
Also called lacquer ware, lacquerware. ware, especially of wood, coated with such a varnish, and often inlaid:
They collected fine Oriental lacquers.
Slang. any volatile solvent that produces euphoria when inhaled.
verb (used with object)
to coat with lacquer.
to cover, as with facile or fluent words or explanations cleverly worded, etc.; obscure the faults of; gloss (often followed by over):
The speech tended to lacquer over the terrible conditions.
Also, lacker.
Origin of lacquer
1570-80; earlier leckar, laker < Portuguese lacre, lacar, unexplained variant of laca < Arabic lakk < Persian lâk lac1
Related forms
lacquerer, noun
relacquer, verb (used with object)
unlacquered, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for lacquer
  • Thus cleansed, the younger priest rises and carries my phone on a lacquer tray to the main altar.
  • If you have cans with colorful paper labels, shellac or lacquer them to preserve the labels.
  • Dulcimers were varnished with lacquer or oil, or simply waxed for a more rustic appearance.
  • We had been eating on a low-to-the-ground lacquer rectangle with little room for either of us to fit.
  • The lobby has red lacquer walls and fulsome carvings in ivory and jade.
  • Trays and bowls carved of indigenous woods and covered with lacquer or metal are prized hospitality gifts.
  • Lunch combos feature a large lacquer bento box filled with entrée combinations, rice and salad.
  • lacquer-finished wainscoted walls and raja slate floors throughout the building showcase its refined designs.
  • Also jewelry, bracelets and necklaces, and a lacquer box with all her rings.
  • Pressed sushi is covered with a thin speckled film of kombu, edible kelp: it looks as if lacquer had been applied over the rice.
British Dictionary definitions for lacquer


a hard glossy coating made by dissolving cellulose derivatives or natural resins in a volatile solvent
a black resinous substance, obtained from certain trees, used to give a hard glossy finish to wooden furniture
lacquer tree Also called varnish tree. an E Asian anacardiaceous tree, Rhus verniciflua, whose stem yields a toxic exudation from which black lacquer is obtained
Also called hair lacquer. a mixture of shellac and alcohol for spraying onto the hair to hold a style in place
(art) decorative objects coated with such lacquer, often inlaid
(transitive) to apply lacquer to
Derived Forms
lacquerer, noun
Word Origin
C16: from obsolete French lacre sealing wax, from Portuguese lacalac1
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 lacquer

1570s as "dye obtained from lac;" 1670s as "lacquer," from obsolete French lacre, name for a kind of sealing wax, from Portuguese lacre, unexplained variant of lacca "resinous substance," from Arabic lakk, from Persian lak (see lac).


"cover or coat with laqueur," 1680s, from lacquer (n.). Related: Lacquered; lacquering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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