spermaceti


spermaceti
spermacetilike, adj.
/sperr'meuh set"ee, -see"tee/, n. Chem., Pharm.
a pearly white, waxy, translucent solid, obtained from the oil in the head of the sperm whale: used chiefly in cosmetics and candles, and as an emollient. Also called cetaceum.
[1425-75; late ME sperma cete < ML sperma ceti sperm of whale (see SPERM1, CET-)]

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wax
      a wax, liquid at body temperature, obtained from the head of a sperm whale or bottlenose whale. Spermaceti was used chiefly in ointments, cosmetic creams, fine wax candles, pomades, and textile finishing; later it was used for industrial lubricants. The substance was named in the mistaken belief that it was the coagulated semen of the whale.

      The fluid contained in the spermaceti organ of the whale's head was removed to obtain crude sperm oil. The spermaceti was separated from the oil by chilling in a process whalers called wintering; it congealed as a white crystalline, waxy solid. Chemically, pure spermaceti consists principally of cetyl palmitate and other esters (ester) of fatty acids (fatty acid) with fatty alcohols (alcohol) and melts at about 44 °C (111 °F). The former official unit of illumination, the candlepower (candela), was defined as the light given off by a candle of pure spermaceti burning at a rate of 7.776 grams (120 grains) per hour.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Spermaceti — (from Greek sperma , seed, and cetus , whale) is a wax present in the head cavities of the sperm whale ( Physeter macrocephalus ). Spermaceti is extracted from whale oil by crystallisation at 6 °C, when treated by pressure and a chemical solution …   Wikipedia

  • spermaceti — [ spɛrmaseti ] n. m. • 1509; lat. sc. spermaceti; bas lat. sperma, mot gr. « semence », et cetus « baleine » ♦ Didact. Blanc de baleine. ● spermaceti nom masculin (latin médiéval spermaceti, du latin classique sperma, semence, et cetus, baleine)… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Spermaceti — Sper ma*ce ti, n. [L. sperma sperm + cetus,gen. ceti, any large sea animal, a whale, Gr. ???. See {Sperm}, {Cetaceous}.] A white waxy substance obtained from cavities in the head of the sperm whale, and used making candles, oilments, cosmetics,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • spermaceti — SPERMACÉTI s.n. Ceară obţinută din craniul de balenă, de delfin şi din craniul şi grăsimea de caşalot, folosită în industria cosmetică şi la fabricarea lumânărilor; cetaceum; (pop.) spermanţet. [< fr. spermaceti, cf. gr. sperma – sămânţă, lat …   Dicționar Român

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  • spermaceti — [spʉr΄mə sēt′ī΄, spʉr΄məsēt′ē; spʉr΄məset′ī, spʉr′məset′ē] n. [ML sperma ceti, lit., whale sperm < LL sperma,SPERM1 + L ceti, gen. of cetus, whale < Gr kētos] a white, waxlike substance taken from the oil in the head of a sperm whale or… …   English World dictionary

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  • spermaceti — cachalot cach a*lot, n. [F. cachalot.] (Zo[ o]l.) The sperm whale ({Physeter macrocephalus}). It has in the top of its head a large cavity, containing an oily fluid, which, after death, concretes into a whitish crystalline substance called… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English