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[sap-uh-nin] /ˈsæp ə nɪn/
noun, Biochemistry
any of a group of amorphous glycosides of terpenes and steroids, occurring in many plants, characterized by an ability to form emulsions and to foam in aqueous solutions, and used as detergents.
1825-35; < French saponine < Latin sāpōn- (stem of sāpō) soap + French -ine -in2 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for saponin
  • And the final step will be adequately soaking the seeds to remove the saponin, a tannin that tastes bitter.
  • Quinoa is coated with a bitter substance called saponin, which must be washed off before it can be eaten.
British Dictionary definitions for saponin


any of a group of plant glycosides with a steroid structure that foam when shaken and are used in detergents
Word Origin
C19: from French saponine, from Latin sāpōsoap
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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saponin in Medicine

saponin sap·o·nin (sāp'ə-nĭn, sə-pō'-)
Any of various plant glucosides that form soapy lathers when mixed and agitated with water, used in detergents, foaming agents, and emulsifiers.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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saponin in Science
  (sāp'ə-nĭn, sə-pō'-)   
Any of various plant glucosides that form soapy lathers when mixed and agitated with water. They are used in detergents, foaming agents, and emulsifiers. Some saponins, such as digitalis, affect the heart and have been used as medicines and arrow poisons by indigenous peoples of Africa and South America.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Article for saponin

any of numerous substances, occurring in plants, that form stable foams with water, including the constituents of digitalis and squill that affect the heart and another group that does not affect the heart.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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