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.

1740–50; < Javanese (or Malay of Java and Sumatra) kapuk the name of the tree

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World English Dictionary
kapok (ˈkeɪpɒk)
Also called: silk cotton 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
[C18: from Malay]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1735, from Malay kapoq, name of the large tropical tree which produces the fibers.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
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.
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