Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A colorless flammable material made from nitrocellulose and camphor and used to make photographic film.
  • n. Motion-picture film: "a strange, anachronistic sight: theater pieces transferred to celluloid” ( David Ansen).
  • n. The cinema; motion pictures: "There are no heroes but in celluloid” ( Charles Langbridge Morgan).
  • adj. Made of or using a material made from nitrocellulose and camphor.
  • adj. Of or portrayed on film or in motion pictures.
  • adj. Artificial; synthetic: a novel with flat, celluloid characters.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Any of a variety of thermoplastics created from nitrocellulose and camphor, once used as photographic film.
  • n. The genre of cinema; film.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A substance composed essentially of gun cotton and camphor, and when pure resembling ivory in texture and color, but variously colored to imitate coral, tortoise shell, amber, malachite, etc. It is used in the manufacture of jewelry and many small articles, as combs, brushes, collars, and cuffs; -- originally called xylonite.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Having the shape or semblance of cells.
  • n. A substance made of guncotton, camphor, and some other ingredients, imitating ivory, or, when colored, tortoise-shell, coral, amber, malachite, etc. Many articles, useful and ornamental, are manufactured from it.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. artificial as if portrayed in a film
  • n. highly flammable substance made from cellulose nitrate and camphor; used in e.g. motion-picture and X-ray film; its use has decreased with the development of nonflammable thermoplastics
  • n. a medium that disseminates moving pictures

Etymologies

Originally a trademark.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Former trademark of Celluloid Manufacturing Company (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Sandlers work is really much the thing to possibly adore or hate. we personally regard You Dont Mess With The Zohan as the misfortune film in celluloid history.

    Archive 2009-11-01

  • Iconic actors exist, in celluloid form, in their prime for ever.

    Lucy Mangan: RIP Golden Age of Hollywood

  • This morning I heard from Laurie Frost, author of The Elements of His Dark Materials, that another guide to Pullman's trilogy, The Rough Guide to His Dark Materials by Paul Simpson, cited that posting to support this statement: The story of Oz -- in celluloid and literary form -- has had a significant impact on Pullman's imagination.

    Archive 2008-03-01

  • At the time, the arrangement of the atoms in celluloid was not known with certainty and only general conclusions could be drawn, but for the metals it had been determined previously by the use of

    G.P. Thomson - Nobel Lecture

  • The biggest untouched property Marvel has yet to exploit on celluloid is Captain America – assuming you don’t consider the wretched films from the 80’s.

    Big Marvel/DC Film Updates for 2010 « Giant Killer Squid - Film, Comics, News, Reviews and more

  • January 21st, 2008 at 6: 33 pm baedo says: perhaps the sexiest thing on video or celluloid is the ol’ tie-the-cherry-stem-into-a-knot that has become her defining clip, in my mind fantasy.

    EGGHEADS DISSECT BABIES

  • Sparing us all the obligatory arguments about Ford “defining the American West” with his sweeping, desolate camera shots and Wayne’s anabashedly American Americanness, there’s just no denying that Ford and Wayne — tag team partners on more than 20 films — are simply one of the most prolific duos in celluloid history.

    Top 10 Actor / Director Tandems In Movie History | Best Week Ever

  • They distinguish between the two, and they're not referring to celluloid or what something was shot on, they are merely contrasting what they find to be tasteful, artful, or simply thought-provoking, versus what they might label pure saccharin entertainment, intravenous movie Slurpee.

    Ashley Wren Collins: Seeking Cinematic Sustenance in a Saturated World

  • He put it on with a pair of gray trousers that are quite good, and not very much bagged, and I had knitted for him a red necktie that he wears over his blue shirt with a collar, called a celluloid collar, that American gentlemen wear.

    The Hohenzollerns in America

  • Trawling the site on various occasions, I've seen dozens of combs made of the early plastic called celluloid - combs so beautiful they belonged in a museum, so beguiling I coveted them for my own.

    NPR Topics: News

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Originally a cotton-like substance called nitrocellulose, derived from cellulose (a natural material made from plant cells) and treated with sulfuric and nitric acids. Celluloid was discovered/developed in 1868 by John Wesley Hyatt (1837-1920), when he combined nitrocellulose with camphor and produced a colorless material he called celluloid, which was originally used as a substitute for ivory in products such as combs and billiard balls. Since it could also be produced in thin, clear sheets that were stronger and more flexible than paper, others began using it in photographic experiments. In 1887, Hannibal Goodwin (1822-1900) applied for a patent on photographic pellicle, which was essentially celluloid treated with an emulsion of light-sensitive chemicals. The following year, before Goodwin's patent was granted, an engineer in the employ of George Eastman applied for a patent on a similar material, and Eastman's Kodak company began using it in experiments to make motion pictures.

    Celluloid was/is highly flammable and deteriorates over time.

    March 7, 2007