Definitions

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

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

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

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

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

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

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

Etymologies

Middle English, from Latin unguentum, from unguere, to anoint.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin unguentum ("ointment"), from unguō ("smear with ointment"), from Proto-Indo-European *ongw- (“to salve”). (Wiktionary)

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 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

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

    Locust Valley Breakdown

  • The unguent softened the hard ridges of the scar, allowed it to become more pliable, and relieved him from the agony of just moving.

    One Night in Scotland

  • He carried no unguent, so apparently, I had carried that point.

    Enjoyment

  • They never considered getting an unguent for those itchy fingers.

    15 – September – 2009 – The Bleat.

Comments

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  • After the traditional American and British UNG-gwent, the Oxford Dictionary of Pronunciation for Current English (2003) records a recent British variant, UNG-gyu-wunt, that does not appear in the second edition of the OED (1989). The best that can be said of it is that it's an overpronunciation. The variant UN-jent in Merriam-Webster is preposterous, but M-W is infamous for sanctioning eccentric and stigmatized pronunciations that other dictionaries ignore. — The Orthoepist

    December 7, 2010

  • 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

  • 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

  • Yeah, the slobberdegullier the better.

    May 19, 2009

  • 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

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

    December 25, 2008

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

    February 28, 2008

  • That classic scene in Fargo. Ung-went!

    February 28, 2008

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

    February 28, 2008

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

    February 21, 2007

  • 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