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[ih-mol-yuh nt] /ɪˈmɒl yənt/
having the power of softening or relaxing, as a medicinal substance; soothing, especially to the skin:
emollient lotions for the face.
an emollient medicine, lotion, salve, etc.
1635-45; < Latin ēmollient- (stem of ēmolliēns) softening up (present participle of ēmollīre), equivalent to ē- e-1 + molli(s) soft + -ent- -ent
Related forms
emollience, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for emollient
  • It works as an emollient and has germicidal properties.
  • The northerners' initial response has been emollient.
British Dictionary definitions for emollient


softening or soothing, esp to the skin
helping to avoid confrontation; calming
any preparation or substance that has a softening or soothing effect, esp when applied to the skin
Derived Forms
emollience, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Latin ēmollīre to soften, from mollis soft
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for emollient

1640s, from French émollient (16c.), from Latin emollientem (nominative emolliens), present participle of emollire "soften," from ex- "out" (see ex-) + mollire "soften," from mollis "soft" (see melt (v.)). The noun is recorded from 1650s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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emollient in Medicine

emollient e·mol·lient (ĭ-mŏl'yənt)
Softening and soothing, especially to the skin. n.
An agent that softens or soothes the skin.

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

any substance that softens the skin by slowing evaporation of water. Sesame, almond, and olive oils were used in ancient Egypt; beeswax, spermaceti, almond oil, borax, and rosewater in Greece; and lanolin (sheep fat) in medieval Europe. Modern emollients include petrolatum, zinc oxide, paraffin, mineral oil, glycerin, beeswax, olive oil, coconut oil, lanolin, cocoa butter, and such synthetics as butyl stearate and diglycol laurate.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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