Definitions

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

  • noun A salve for soothing or healing; an ointment.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Any soft composition used as an ointment or for lubrication.

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

  • noun A lubricant or salve for sores, burns, or the like; an ointment.

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

  • noun any cream containing medicinal ingredients applied to the skin for therapeutic purposes

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

  • noun semisolid preparation (usually containing a medicine) applied externally as a remedy or for soothing an irritation

Etymologies

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

[Middle English, from Latin unguentum, from unguere, to anoint.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin unguentum ("ointment"), from unguō ("smear with ointment"), from Proto-Indo-European *ongw- (“to salve”).

Examples

  • Now, Sharpe, the fly in our unguent is the fact these royal guards are all Irish.

    Sharpe's Battle

  • Sure, someone recently offered to send me some kind of unguent to evaluate, but I declined.

    Comfy Chairs: Riding and Reading

  • Two assistants of the torturer bathed the lacerated shoulders of the culprit, applied to them some kind of unguent which immediately closed the wounds, and threw over his back a yellow cloth shaped like a chasuble; Pierrat Torterue meanwhile letting the blood drain from the lashes of his scourge in great drops on to the ground.

    IV. A Tear for a Drop of Water. Book VI

  • This powerful emmenagogue was a kind of unguent composed of several drugs, such as saffron, myrrh, etc., compounded with virgin honey.

    The memoirs of Jacques Casanova de Seingalt

  • This powerful emmenagogue was a kind of unguent composed of several drugs, such as saffron, myrrh, etc., compounded with virgin honey.

    Memoirs of Casanova — Volume 12: Return to Paris

  • This powerful emmenagogue was a kind of unguent composed of several drugs, such as saffron, myrrh, etc., compounded with virgin honey.

    The Complete Memoirs of Jacques Casanova

  • I don't know about you guys, but I'm still having trouble with the word "salvific" It just sounds like some kind of unguent to me …

    Knowledge is Power

  • Pearl Hand traded a couple of pieces of shell for a pot of unguent made from spruce needles, boiled pine needles, and red root.

    Fire The Sky

  • Pearl Hand traded a couple of pieces of shell for a pot of unguent made from spruce needles, boiled pine needles, and red root.

    Fire The Sky

  • I made an appointment with him and was shown it floating in a jar of clean unguent.

    Locust Valley Breakdown

Comments

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  • An ointment or salve, neither of which word is as exciting as unguent.

    Usages: c1440 Pallad. on Husb. IV. 147 Or madifie hit so in oil lauryne, Let drie hem, sowe hem, vp by oon assent They wol, and haue odour like her vnguent. 1778 LIGHTFOOT Flora Scot. II. 618 The buds yield a yellow resinous unguent. 1857 MAURICE Ep. St. John x. 162 Oils and unguents in the East had a virtue which we do not commonly attach to them.

    February 3, 2007

  • One of the TSA's new obsessions...

    February 21, 2007

  • This word disappointed me terribly. I was so sure it was pronounced un'JEHNT. Which is tasty. ung'gwehnt is icky.

    February 28, 2008

  • That classic scene in Fargo. Ung-went!

    February 28, 2008

  • But roseandivy, it sounds so...languid. :-)

    February 28, 2008

  • Does it qualify for "Unexpected pronunciations", then?

    December 25, 2008

  • I thought it was ung-yoo-ent and delighted in the disgusting sound of it. alas.

    M-W claims 'un-jent' is acceptable.

    May 19, 2009

  • Yeah, the slobberdegullier the better.

    May 19, 2009

  • At the risk of being a pedant (I trust no one is surprised), if I heard some yahoo pronounce it "unjent" in a meeting, or somewhere, I'd call them out on it.

    Sometimes the M-W office, I suspect, is filled with insane people.

    May 19, 2009

  • I quite like the pronunciation. "Ung-went" is a rich and creamy sound, like the best and most expensive ointments. "Un-jent" is a sharp and pungent sound; it makes me think of spicy incense, not creamy ointment.

    Not that there's anything wrong with spicy incense, of course. It's just a totally different thing altogether.

    C_b, would you consider "unguent" for inclusion on your Creative Onomatopoeia list?

    December 2, 2010