Try Our Apps


Gobble up these 8 terms for eating


[am-ber-grees, -gris] /ˈæm bərˌgris, -grɪs/
an opaque, ash-colored secretion of the sperm whale intestine, usually found floating on the ocean or cast ashore: used in perfumery.
Origin of ambergris
late Middle English
1375-1425; < Middle French ambre gris gray amber (see amber); replacing late Middle English imbergres Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for ambergris
Historical Examples
British Dictionary definitions for ambergris


/ˈæmbəˌɡriːs; -ˌɡrɪs/
a waxy substance consisting mainly of cholesterol secreted by the intestinal tract of the sperm whale and often found floating in the sea: used in the manufacture of perfumes
Word Origin
C15: from Old French ambre gris grey amber
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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for ambergris

early 15c., from Middle French ambre gris "gray amber" (see amber), "a wax-like substance of ashy colour, found floating in tropical seas, a morbid secretion from the intestines of the sperm-whale. Used in perfumery, and formerly in cookery" [OED]. King Charles II's favorite dish was said to be eggs and ambergris [Macauley, "History of England"]. French gris is from Frankish *gris or some other Germanic source (cf. Dutch grijs, Old High German gris; see gray).

Praise is like ambergris; a little whiff of it, by snatches, is very agreeable; but when a man holds a whole lump of it to his nose, it is a stink and strikes you down. [Pope, c.1720]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
ambergris in Science
  (ām'bər-grĭs', -grēs')   
A yellow, gray, or black waxy material formed in the intestines of sperm whales that consists of a mixture of steroid derivatives. It is often found floating at sea or washed ashore, has a pleasant odor, and is added to perfumes as a fixative to slow down the rate of evaporation.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Word Value for ambergris

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for ambergris