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[koh-puh l, -pal] /ˈkoʊ pəl, -pæl/
a hard, lustrous resin obtained from various tropical trees and used chiefly in making varnishes.
1570-80; < Mexican Spanish < Nahuatl copalli Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for copals


/ˈkəʊpəl; -pæl/
a hard aromatic resin, yellow, orange, or red in colour, obtained from various tropical trees and used in making varnishes and lacquers
Word Origin
C16: from Spanish, from Nahuatl copalli resin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Encyclopedia Article for copals


any of various varnish resins, consisting of the exudates obtained from various tropical trees. The name copal was probably derived from the Nahuatl copalli, "resin." When hard, copal is lustrous, varying in hue from almost colourless and transparent to a bright yellowish brown. It dissolves in alcohol or other organic solvents upon heating and is used in making varnishes and printing ink. Copal is obtained from various sources; the term is vaguely used for resins that, though similar in physical properties, differ in their chemical makeup and are altogether distinct as to their source

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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