spermaceti

spermaceti

[spur-muh-set-ee, -see-tee]
noun Chemistry, Pharmacology.
a pearly white, waxy, translucent solid, obtained from the oil in the head of the sperm whale: used chiefly in cosmetics and candles, and as an emollient.
Also called cetaceum.


Origin:
1425–75; late Middle English sperma cete < Medieval Latin sperma cētī sperm of whale (see sperm1, cet-)

spermacetilike, adjective
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World English Dictionary
spermaceti (ˌspɜːməˈsɛtɪ, -ˈsiːtɪ)
 
n
a white waxy substance obtained from oil from the head of the sperm whale: used in cosmetics, candles, ointments, etc
 
[C15: from Medieval Latin sperma cētī whale's sperm, from spermasperm1 + Latin cētus whale, from Greek kētos]

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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
spermaceti   (spûr'mə-sē'tē)  Pronunciation Key 
A white, waxy substance that is obtained from the head of the sperm whale and sometimes other whales, porpoises, and dolphins, and was once widely used to make candles, ointments, and cosmetics. Spermaceti is a liquid at body temperature and consists primarily of fatty alcohols and esters of fatty acids. Spermaceti is produced by the spermaceti organ, a huge melon-shaped sac that may function as a battering ram in aggressive behavior between males.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Encyclopedia Britannica
Encyclopedia

spermaceti

a wax, liquid at body temperature, obtained from the head of a sperm whale or bottlenose whale. Spermaceti was used chiefly in ointments, cosmetic creams, fine wax candles, pomades, and textile finishing; later it was used for industrial lubricants. The substance was named in the mistaken belief that it was the coagulated semen of the whale

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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