a white or colorless, tasteless, odorless, water-insoluble, solid substance not easily acted upon by reagents, consisting of a mixture of hydrocarbons chiefly of the alkane series, obtained from crude petroleum: used in candles, for forming preservative coatings and seals, for waterproofing paper, etc.
any member of the alkane series.
one of the higher members of the alkane series, solid at ordinary temperatures, having a boiling point above 300°C, which largely constitutes the commercial form of this substance.
Also called paraffin oil. British, kerosene.
verb (used with object)
to cover or impregnate with paraffin.

1830–40; < German < Latin par(um) barely + aff(īnis) connected + -in2; so called from its slight affinity for other substances; see affinity Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
paraffin or (less commonly) paraffine (ˈpærəfɪn, ˈpærəˌfiːn)
1.  paraffin oil, Also called: kerosene a liquid mixture consisting mainly of alkane hydrocarbons with boiling points in the range 150°--300°C, used as an aircraft fuel, in domestic heaters, and as a solvent
2.  another name for alkane
3.  See paraffin wax
4.  See liquid paraffin
5.  to treat with paraffin or paraffin wax
[C19: from German, from Latin parum too little + affinis adjacent; so called from its chemical inertia]
paraffine or (less commonly) paraffine
[C19: from German, from Latin parum too little + affinis adjacent; so called from its chemical inertia]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

1838, from Ger. Paraffin, coined c.1830 by Ger. chemist Karl von Reichenbach (1788-1869) from L. parum "not very, too little" + affinis "associated with." So called because paraffin is chemically not closely related to other substances.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
paraffin   (pār'ə-fĭn)  Pronunciation Key 
  1. A waxy, white or colorless solid mixture of hydrocarbons made from petroleum and used to make candles, wax paper, lubricants, and waterproof coatings. Also called paraffin wax.

  2. See alkane.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
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