[par-uh-fin] /ˈpær ə fɪn/

a white or colorless, tasteless, odorless, water-insoluble, solid substance not easily acted upon by reagents, consisting of a mixture of hydrocarbons chiefly of the alkane series, obtained from crude petroleum: used in candles, for forming preservative coatings and seals, for waterproofing paper, etc.

Also called paraffin oil. British. .
verb (used with object)
to cover or impregnate with paraffin.
Also called paraffin oil, (esp US and Canadian) kerosene. a liquid mixture consisting mainly of alkane hydrocarbons with boiling points in the range 150°–300°C, used as an aircraft fuel, in domestic heaters, and as a solvent
another name for alkane
See paraffin wax
See liquid paraffin
verb (transitive)
to treat with paraffin or paraffin wax

1838, from German Paraffin, coined c.1830 by German chemist Karl von Reichenbach (1788-1869), who first obtained it as a waxy substance from wood tar, irregularly from Latin parum “not very, too little,” probably related to parvus “little, small” (see parvi-) + affinis “associated with” (see affinity).

So called because paraffin is chemically not closely related to other substances. The liquid form (originally parafin oil) Reichenbach called eupion, but this was the standard meaning of paraffin in English by 1860.


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  • Paraffinoma

    paraffinoma par·af·fi·no·ma (pār’ə-fə-nō’mə) n. A tumefaction, usually a granuloma, caused by the prosthetic or therapeutic injection of paraffin.

  • Paraffin-series

    noun, Chemistry. 1. . noun, Chemistry. 1. the homologous series of saturated, aliphatic hydrocarbons having the general formula C n H 2n+2 , as methane, CH 4 , or ethane, C 2 H 6 . paraffin series See under alkane.

  • Paraffin-wax

    noun 1. paraffin in its solid state. noun 1. a white insoluble odourless waxlike solid consisting mainly of alkane hydrocarbons with melting points in the range 50°–60°C, used in candles, waterproof paper, and as a sealing agent Also called paraffin paraffin wax See paraffin.

  • Parafoil

    [par-uh-foil] /ˈpær əˌfɔɪl/ noun 1. a structure, usually made of a strong yet light fabric, having a shape similar to that of an airplane wing, and used as a kite or a parachute. /ˈpærəˌfɔɪl/ noun 1. a nonrigid aerofoil inflated by the wind, used in kites and paragliders

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