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[naf-thuh, nap-] /ˈnæf θə, ˈnæp-/
a colorless, volatile petroleum distillate, usually an intermediate product between gasoline and benzine, used as a solvent, fuel, etc.
Compare mineral spirits.
any of various similar liquids distilled from other products.
Origin of naphtha
1565-75; < Latin < Greek náphthas, perhaps < Iranian *nafta, derivative of *nab- to be damp; compare Avestan napta- damp, Persian naft naphtha
Related forms
naphthous, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for naphtha
  • naphtha prices have again receded, so variable costs should drop soon.
  • Purified bitumen is heated to break its long hydrocarbon chains into lighter molecules, such as naphtha, that can be refined.
  • naphtha isomerization converts the straight chains to branched, significantly raising their octane number.
  • In high energy environments, the naphtha will likely disperse as small droplets in the water column.
  • In the first, naphtha vapor contacts solid sorbent particles for capturing the sulfur compounds.
  • naphtha can also be a combination of product streams from several refinery processes.
British Dictionary definitions for naphtha


/ˈnæfθə; ˈnæp-/
a distillation product from coal tar boiling in the approximate range 80–170°C and containing aromatic hydrocarbons
a distillation product from petroleum boiling in the approximate range 100–200°C and containing aliphatic hydrocarbons: used as a solvent and in petrol
an obsolete name for petroleum
Word Origin
C16: via Latin from Greek, of Iranian origin; related to Persian neft naphtha
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 naphtha

inflammable liquid distilled from petroleum, 1570s, from Latin, from Greek naphtha "bitumen," perhaps from Persian neft "pitch," or Aramaic naphta, nephta, but these could as well be from Greek. In Middle English as napte (late 14c.), from Old French napte, but the modern word is a re-introduction.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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naphtha in Medicine

naphtha naph·tha (nāf'thə, nāp'-)
Any of several highly volatile, flammable liquid mixtures of hydrocarbons distilled from petroleum, coal tar, or natural gas and used as solvents and in making various chemicals.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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naphtha in Science
Any of several liquid mixtures of hydrocarbons made by refining petroleum or by breaking down coal tar. Naphtha is usually flammable, and is used as a solvent and as an ingredient in gasoline. It is also used to make plastics.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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