Definitions

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

  • adj. Softening and soothing, especially to the skin.
  • adj. Making less harsh or abrasive; mollifying: the emollient approach of a diplomatic mediator.
  • n. An agent that softens or soothes the skin.
  • n. An agent that assuages or mollifies.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Something which softens or lubricates the skin.
  • n. Anything soothing the mind, or that makes something more acceptable.
  • adj. Moisturizing.
  • adj. Soothing or mollifying.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Softening; making supple; acting as an emollient.
  • n. An external something or soothing application to allay irritation, soreness, etc.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Softening; making soft or supple; serving to relax the solids of anything.
  • n. A therapeutic agent or process which softens and relaxes living tissues, as a poultice or massage. The word was formerly applied to the so-called demulcents.

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

  • adj. having a softening or soothing effect especially to the skin
  • n. toiletry consisting of any of various substances in the form of a thick liquid that have a soothing and moisturizing effect when applied to the skin

Etymologies

Latin ēmolliēns, ēmollient-, present participle of ēmollīre, to soften : ē-, ex-, intensive pref.; see ex- + mollīre, to soften (from mollis, soft; see mel-1 in Indo-European roots).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin emolliēns, present active participle of ēmolliō ("make soft"), from e- + molliō, from mollis ("soft"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • From what I’ve been able to glean online, it’s a hormonal thing, and no amount of soaking in emollient baths seems to make a blind bit of difference.

    knocked update

  • Peter Riddell, author of "The Unfulfilled Prime Minister: Tony Blair and the End of Optimism," says that if Brown, once he's become prime minister, cannot be "emollient" to hard-core Blairites, the "fault lines" will widen, possibly splitting the party in two.

    Periscope

  • "You clearly have no idea at all about what I actually said but I wouldn't want you to let the facts get in the way of a good rant," replied the ever emollient Davies.

    Hugh Muir's diary

  • Senior officials and diplomats in Brussels confirmed that the IMF threat to pull the plug on its funding, in stark contrast to the more emollient line of Strauss-Kahn, had been defused because of a German climbdown.

    Hardline IMF forced Germany to guarantee Greek bailout

  • Ever emollient, she adds: "If we succeed it should mean that the rest of the system should be doing more and better."

    UN Women's head Michelle Bachelet: A new superhero?

  • A more emollient figure than Eric Pickles – who could start a fight in an empty room – might reduce the levels of animosity between the government and local councils.

    Reshuffle in haste, Mr Cameron, and you will repent at leisure | Andrew Rawnsley

  • I hated to see it, and from a fact-checking point of view there were real questions about whether she uses Botox, or another emollient derived from Clostridium botulinum.

    My Super PAC Is Driving Me CRAZY

  • This new line of lip gloss is high-shine, emollient-rich, and comes in 35 friggin' shades.

    Pandora Young: January's Best Beauty Finds

  • David Bernstein's imminent appointment as the new Football Association chairman is down in part to his emollient nature – but Newcastle's owner Mike Ashley might disagree

    Ghosts of FA's past return to give David Bernstein first test

  • Michael Tomasky: Going beyond Obama's usual 'post-partisan' politics, this speech was almost weirdly emollient.

    The state of the union: commentariat reaction

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Comments

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  • Hail, poetry, thou heav'n-born maid!
    Thou gildest e'en the pirate's trade!
    Hail, flowing fount of sentiment!
    All hail, all hail, Divine Emollient!

    -- W.S. Gilbert, The Pirates of Penzance

    I really ought to do a G&S list.

    August 20, 2008