from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A fragrant white or colorless crystalline ketone, C10H16O, obtained naturally from the wood of the camphor tree or synthesized from pinene and used as an insect repellent, in the manufacture of film, plastics, lacquers, and in medicine chiefly in external preparations to relieve mild pain and itching.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A whitish, translucent, volatile substance closely related to the ethereal oils, with a tough crystalline texture, a peculiar penetrating odor, and an aromatic cooling taste, the product of various trees and plants of eastern Asia and the adjacent islands. See camphor-tree.
  • To impregnate or wash with camphor; camphorate.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb rare To impregnate or wash with camphor; to camphorate.
  • noun A tough, white, aromatic resin, or gum, obtained from different species of the Laurus family, esp. from Cinnamomum camphara (the Laurus camphora of Linnæus.). Camphor, C10H16O, is volatile and fragrant, and is used in medicine as a diaphoretic, a stimulant, or sedative.
  • noun originally, a gum resembling ordinary camphor, obtained from a tree (Dryobalanops aromatica formerly Dryobalanops camphora) growing in Sumatra and Borneo; now applied to its main constituent, a terpene alcohol obtainable as a white solid C10H18O, called also Borneo camphor, Malay camphor, Malayan camphor, camphor of Borneo, Sumatra camphor, bornyl alcohol, camphol, and borneol. The isomer from Dryobalanops is dextrorotatory; the levoratatory form is obtainable from other species of plants, and the racemic mixture may be obtained by reduction of camphor. It is used in perfumery, and for manufacture of its esters. See Borneol.
  • noun (Chem.) name variously given to certain oil-like products, obtained especially from the camphor tree.
  • noun a large evergreen tree (Cinnamomum Camphora) with lax, smooth branches and shining triple-nerved lanceolate leaves, probably native in China, but now cultivated in most warm countries. Camphor is collected by a process of steaming the chips of the wood and subliming the product.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun organic chemistry A white transparent waxy crystalline isoprenoid ketone, with a strong pungent odour, used in pharmacy.

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

  • noun a resin obtained from the camphor tree; used in making celluloid and liniment


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

[Middle English caumfre, from Anglo-Norman, from Medieval Latin camphora, from Arabic kāfūr, possibly from Malay kapur; akin to Sanskrit karpūraḥ.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French camphore or Medieval Latin camphora, from Arabic كافور (kāfūr), from Middle Persian 𐭪𐭠𐭬𐭥𐭫 (kāpūr), ultimately from Malay kapur, possibly via Sanskrit कर्पुर (karpura).


  • The juice of which the camphor is made runs out from a hole bored in the upper part of the tree, is received in a vessel, where it grows thick, and becomes what we call camphor; and the juice thus drawn out the tree withers and dies.

    Fairy Tales from the Arabian Nights

  • When people went out they wore gauze masks over their nose and mouth, often soaked in camphor or other medicinal substances.

    Archive 2005-12-01

  • When people went out they wore gauze masks over their nose and mouth, often soaked in camphor or other medicinal substances.

    A Science Odyssey: People and Discoveries: Worldwide flu pandemic strikes

  • The word camphor (_kafier_), which is derived from the word _kafr_, means to "suppress or cover."

    There was a King in Egypt

  • Like musk, which virgin camphor ne’er lets off it:

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night

  • The sap flows from an incision made high up in the tree into a vessel hung there to receive it, and soon hardens into the substance called camphor, but the tree itself withers up and dies when it has been so treated.

    Still Separate & Unequal

  • With a few exceptions, nearly all these powders are nitro compounds, and chiefly consist of some form of nitro-cellulose, either in the form of nitro-cotton or nitro-lignine; or else contain, in addition to the above, nitro-glycerine, with very often some such substance as camphor, which is used to reduce the sensitiveness of the explosive.

    Nitro-Explosives: A Practical Treatise

  • Mr F.H. Snyder, of New York, is the inventor of a shell powder known as the "Snyder Explosive," consisting of 94 per cent. nitro-glycerine, 6 per cent. of soluble nitro-cotton, and camphor, which is said to be safe in use.

    Nitro-Explosives: A Practical Treatise

  • The slight layer of greasy matter that habitually lines the sides of vessels from whence no effort has been made to remove it, produces effects exactly like those of the oil of camphor, that is to say, that in measure as it becomes thicker it likewise arrests the motions of the concrete volatile essence.

    Scientific American Supplement, No. 401, September 8, 1883

  • Quails were seen on the march at some distance: it seems to be a great country for potash, and perhaps for camphor, which is evidently abundant in one species of Artemisia.

    Journals of Travels in Assam, Burma, Bhootan, Afghanistan and the Neighbouring Countries


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