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[bahy-too-muh n, -tyoo-, bi-, bich-oo-] /baɪˈtu mən, -ˈtyu-, bɪ-, ˈbɪtʃ ʊ-/
any of various natural substances, as asphalt, maltha, or gilsonite, consisting mainly of hydrocarbons.
(formerly) an asphalt of Asia Minor used as cement and mortar.
Origin of bitumen
late Middle English
1425-75; late Middle English bithumen < Latin bitūmen
Related forms
[bahy-too-muh-noid, -tyoo-, bi-] /baɪˈtu məˌnɔɪd, -ˈtyu-, bɪ-/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for bitumen
  • Water and bitumen are then pumped to the surface, where they are separated before being piped to a refinery.
  • Both processes produce bitumen, which needs extra treatment before it can be refined into petrol.
  • One long-standing idea is to create a large wildlife refuge in areas that will eventually be tapped for bitumen.
  • He smears bitumen from an old car battery onto the end of the shaft, heats it again, and binds twine made of kudu sinew around it.
  • Today the bitumen mined here is used to pave highways throughout the world.
  • Modified-bitumen membrane base sheet and ply sheet in adhesive.
  • Primed metal sump flashing in modified-bitumen flashing cement.
  • Determine the requirements for the condition of the aggregate at the time of application for the bitumen being used.
  • Heat bitumen as specified and pour approximately one pint of bitumen on surface to which roofing materials are to be applied.
British Dictionary definitions for bitumen


any of various viscous or solid impure mixtures of hydrocarbons that occur naturally in asphalt, tar, mineral waxes, etc: used as a road surfacing and roofing material
the constituents of coal that can be extracted by an organic solvent
any liquid suitable for coating aggregates
the bitumen
  1. (Austral & NZ, informal) any road with a bitumen surface
  2. (capital) (Austral, informal) the road in the Northern Territory between Darwin and Alice Springs
a transparent brown pigment or glaze made from asphalt
Derived Forms
bituminous (bɪˈtjuːmɪnəs) adjective
Word Origin
C15: from Latin bitūmen, perhaps of Celtic origin
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 bitumen

mid-15c., from Latin bitumen "asphalt," probably, via Oscan or Umbrian, from Celtic *betu- "birch, birch resin" (cf. Gaulish betulla "birch," used by Pliny for the tree supposedly the source of bitumen).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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bitumen in Science
Any of various flammable mixtures of hydrocarbons and other substances found in asphalt and tar. Bitumens occur naturally or are produced from petroleum and coal.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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bitumen in the Bible

Gen. 11:3, R.V., margin, rendered in the A.V. "slime"), a mineral pitch. With this the ark was pitched (6:14. See also Ex. 2:3.) (See SLIME.)

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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