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[key-pok] /ˈkeɪ pɒk/
the silky down that invests the seeds of a silk-cotton tree (ka·pok tree) Ceiba pentandra, of the East Indies, Africa, and tropical America: used for stuffing pillows, life jackets, etc., and for acoustical insulation.
Also called Java cotton.
Origin of kapok
1740-50; < Javanese (or Malay of Java and Sumatra) kapuk the name of the tree Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for kapok
  • When the kapok tree blooms, say the elders, it is time to gather crocodile eggs.
  • Tour participants look out over the rainforest canopy from viewing platforms constructed in the giant kapok tree.
  • kapok was also used to stuff seat cushions and mattresses.
  • Later, the use of kapok was discouraged because the fibers are flammable.
  • Squeeze kapok life jackets to check that they are pliable and are free of punctures in the inner plastic liner.
British Dictionary definitions for kapok


a silky fibre obtained from the hairs covering the seeds of a tropical bombacaceous tree, Ceiba pentandra (kapok tree or silk-cotton tree): used for stuffing pillows, etc, and for sound insulation Also called silk cotton
Word Origin
C18: from Malay
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 kapok

1735, from Malay kapoq, name of the large tropical tree which produces the fibers.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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