American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. A white, waxy substance consisting of various esters of fatty acids, obtained from the head of the sperm whale or another cetacean and used for making candles, ointments, and cosmetics.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A peculiar fatty substance contained in the characteristic adipose tissue of the cavity of the head of the spermwhale or cachalot, Physeter or Catodon macrocephalus, and related cetaceans. During the life of the animal the spermaceti is in a fluid state, and when the head is opened has the appearance of an oily white liquid. On exposure to the air the spermaceti concretes and precipitates from the oil, from which it may then be separated. After being purified by an elaborate process the spermaceti concretes into a white, crystallized, brittle, semi-transparent unctuous substance, nearly inodorous and insipid. It dissolves in boiling alcohol, and as the solution cools it is deposited in perfectly pure lamellated crystals. In this state it is called
cetin. Spermaceti is a mixture of various fatty acids and derivatives of the acids. It is bland and demulcent, but in medicine it is chiefly employed externally as an ingredient in ointments, cerates, and cosmetics. It has also been largely used in the manufacture of candles.
- Pertaining to, derived from, or composed of spermaceti or sperm.
- Producing or yielding spermaceti, as the sperm-whales.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. A white waxy substance obtained from cavities in the head of the sperm whale, and used making candles, oilments, cosmetics, etc. It consists essentially of ethereal salts of palmitic acid with ethal and other hydrocarbon bases. The substance of spermaceti after the removal of certain impurities is sometimes called
- n. a white waxy substance from oil of the sperm whale
- Middle English, from Medieval Latin spermacētī : Late Latin sperma, semen; see sperm1 + Latin cētī, genitive of cētus, whale; see Cetus. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“This is made into what you call spermaceti candles.”
“They were hunted because of spermaceti, which is this oil-like substance, a liquid which is found in the melon, in this part of the whale's body.”
“Almost the only material used for artificially heightening the apparent proportion of stearoptene is said to be spermaceti, which is easily recognizable from its liability to settle down in a solid cake, and from its melting at 122° Fahr., whereas stearoptene fuses at 91. 4° Fahr.”
“Candles were also made from spermaceti, which is a substance taken from the head of the sperm whale.”
“_Spermaceti_: An oily substance found in the head of a species of whale called the spermaceti whale.”
“_Spermaceti_, an oily substance, found in the head of a species of whale, called the spermaceti whale.”
“About a quarter of the whale's body is taken up by its massive snout, properly called the spermaceti organ, which is filled with a very fine grade of oil.”
“The qualities of the oils thus described, it is to be added that an individual has discovered methods 1. of converting a great part of the oil of the spermaceti whale into the solid substance called spermaceti, heretofore produced from his head alone.”
“In its head is a reservoir of clear liquid called spermaceti, which sets to a dense white wax when cooled to concentrate weight in the head during a dive.”
“Hunters focused on them because of an oily wax they produce called spermaceti, which was even more valuable than whale oil in the days before petroleum drilling.”
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