from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition
- n. A waxy grayish substance formed in the intestines of sperm whales and found floating at sea or washed ashore. It is added to perfumes to slow down the rate of evaporation.
from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License
- n. A solid, waxy, flammable substance of a dull grey or blackish color, produced in the intestines of the sperm whale. It is used in perfumes.
from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English
- n. A substance of the consistence of wax, found floating in the Indian Ocean and other parts of the tropics, and also as a morbid secretion in the intestines of the sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus), which is believed to be in all cases its true origin. In color it is white, ash-gray, yellow, or black, and often variegated like marble. The floating masses are sometimes from sixty to two hundred and twenty-five pounds in weight. It is wholly volatilized as a white vapor at 212° Fahrenheit, and is highly valued in perfumery.
from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A morbid secretion of the liver or intestines of the spermaceti whale, the Catodon (Physeter) macrocephalus; a solid, opaque, ash-colored, inflammable substance, lighter than water, of a consistence like that of wax, and having when heated a fragrant odor.
from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.
- n. waxy substance secreted by the sperm whale and found floating at sea or washed ashore; used in perfume
Believe it or not, ambergris is also considered gourmet food.
Though the word ambergris is but the French compound for grey amber, yet the two substances are quite distinct.
By any name ambergris was the standard of wealth of the age.
But as to the raw ambergris which is not swallowed, it floweth over the channel and congealeth on the banks and when the sun shineth on it, it melteth and scenteth the whole valley with a musk-like fragrance: then, when the sun ceaseth from it, it congealeth again.
Also, the ones that I will probably not be able to get for a long time if at all - such as ambergris and East Indian sandalwood I have enough in stock to make Gigi for a whilte.
But as to the raw ambergris which is not swallowed, it floweth over the channel and congealeth on the banks, and when the sun shineth on it, it melteth and scenteth the whole valley with a musk-like fragrance.
A curious case of a substance valued as perfume by civilised man, and yet coming from a source whence sweet odours would hardly be expected, is that which is known as "ambergris," or "ambre gris" (grey amber).
The substance called "ambergris" (grey amber), valued to-day as a perfume, is a fæcal concretion similar to a bezoar-stone.
Moreover, he spread before each of them a sash of white silk and bringing forth of his pocket precious stones and perfumes, such as ambergris and aloes-wood, (set them on the edges thereof)  after which they sat down, each on his sash, and Mubarek taught Zein ul Asnam these words, which he should say to the King of the Jinn, to wit: "O my lord King of the Jinn, we are in thy safeguard."
And not because of food as much as for their oil and ambergris.