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

  • n. A brown, fatty, waxlike substance that forms on dead animal tissues in response to moisture.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A brown, fatty, waxy substance (fatty acids) that forms on dead animal tissues in response to hydrolysis

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A soft, unctuous, or waxy substance, of a light brown color, into which the fat and muscle tissue of dead bodies sometimes are converted, by long immersion in water or by burial in moist places. It is a result of fatty degeneration.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A soft unctuous or waxy substance, of a light-brown color, produced by the decomposition of animal matter when protected from the air, and under certain conditions of temperature and humidity. It consists chiefly of ammonium margarate, with an admixture of the margarates of potassium and calcium.


adipo(se) + Latin cēra, wax.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From adipo- + Latin cēra (Wiktionary)


  • Much more rarely, the fetus is converted into a yellowish, greasy mass to which the term adipocere is applied.

    The Well-Timed Period

  • This greasy, sometimes waxy substance is known as adipocere, or grave wax.

    Break No Bones

  • Corpses of infants and overweight persons are particularly prone to adipocere transformation.

    A Bit of Soap

  • Grave wax (adipocere) tends to be a strange substance, smooth and, when it's had time, relatively hard and brittle (not always; it depends on the conditions).

    A Bit of Soap

  • OMG–I totally thought that was a corpse converted to adipocere.

    Regretsy – Button Honey

  • Nora turned back to the body and studied the edges of the flesh where the right leg must have been submerged in water; the visible tendons and ligaments looked frayed, and she could see a layer of adipocere beneath the skin—ordinary body fat transformed into a yellowish, waxy material—a common feature of preserved remains.


  • “Enveloped in adipocere packing the basicranium, below the palate.”

    Spider Bones

  • I had a similar situation discussing some bad adipocere, and bless her heart, the woman doesn't speak to me to this day.

    Through A Glass Darkly

  • I'd seen corpses in which adipocere preserved the body and facial features, while putrefaction turned the insides to soup.

    Break No Bones

  • I could see abrasions in the adipocere where the knees and shins had scraped against the drum's inner surface.

    Break No Bones


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