Definitions

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

  • n. A silky fiber obtained from the fruit of the silk-cotton tree and used for insulation and as padding in pillows, mattresses, and life preservers.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A silky fibre obtained from the silk-cotton tree used for insulation and stuffing for pillows, mattresses, etc.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A silky wool derived from the seeds of Ceiba pentandra (syn. Eriodendron anfractuosum), a bombaceous tree of the East and West Indies.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. The silky wool which invests the seeds of Eriodendron anfractuosum, a species of silk-cotton tree botanically related to the cotton-plants, found in the East and the West Indies.

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

  • n. a plant fiber from the kapok tree; used for stuffing and insulation
  • n. massive tropical tree with deep ridges on its massive trunk and bearing large pods of seeds covered with silky floss; source of the silky kapok fiber

Etymologies

Malay kapuk.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Malay kapuk. (Wiktionary)

Examples

Comments

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  • ". . .finds him, a fat, slobbish layabout, rocking to and fro in a rococo rocking chair, lolling back on a cushion of soft kapok quilting. . " Gilbert Adair translation of Georges Perec's La Disparition

    August 11, 2010

  • I found some kapok while touring the backblocks by bicycle on Sunday.

    October 21, 2008

  • "Their vehicle was a streamlined 'palace' horse van painted in Howard crimson and white and featuring two musical horns, eight headlights, fourteen cigar lighters, and a luxurious stall with kapok-stuffed walls. The back doors dropped open, and Smith and Seabiscuit emerged."
    —Laura Hillenbrand, Seabiscuit: An American Legend (New York: Ballentine Books, 2001), 355

    October 21, 2008

  • Thanks, bilby. I think I pilfered that definition from a dictionary, and I should have noticed it was missing a piece of geography.

    January 3, 2008

  • As Java is not in the areas reesetee mentioned, we'll have to add Southeast Asia. Indeed I have seen this tree growing in villages in Java. I believe its name is randu in Javanese and kapuk in Indonesian, hence the origins of this word.

    Might I also add that it is excellent pillow stuffing. It is quite cool, as compared to synthetic fibres. In the tropics a night on a kapok mattress is much preferable to a night on anything else.

    January 3, 2008

  • A tropical tree native to northern South America, Central America, the Caribbean, and tropical west Africa. The word is also used for the fiber obtained from the tree's seed pods. The tree is also known as the Java cotton, Java kapok, or silk-cotton tree. It's a sacred symbol in Mayan mythology.

    September 14, 2007