adipocere

noun
ad·​i·​po·​cere | \ ˈa-də-pə-ˌsir How to pronounce adipocere (audio) \

Definition of adipocere

: a waxy substance consisting chiefly of fatty acids and calcium soaps that is formed during decomposition of dead body fat in moist or wet anaerobic conditions

First Known Use of adipocere

1800, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for adipocere

borrowed from French adipocire, from adipo- adipo- + cire "wax," going back to Old French, going back to Latin cēra — more at cerumen

Note: The e introduced into the English word is presumably after Latin cēra. Word introduced by the French physician and chemist Antoine François de Fourcroy in Annales de Chimie, tome 8 (Jan., 1791), p. 67-70: "Ces dernières propriétés, ainsi que sa qualité sonore, cassante & son tissu souvent grenu, la rapprochent de la cire. On pourroit donc la désigner par le nom de matière adipo-cireuse…La seule substance analogue à cette adipo-cire que l'aie trouvée dans le corps humain, c'est la concrétion blanche & cristalline qui constitue les calculs feuilletés de la vésicule du fiel." ("These latter properties, as well as its sound, brittle quality and its frequent graininess make it similar to wax. One could hence designate it by the term 'adipocerous matter'…The only substance comparable to this adipocere that I have found in the human body is the white, crystalline concretion constituted by the foliated stones in the bile duct….")

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about adipocere

Time Traveler for adipocere

Time Traveler

The first known use of adipocere was in 1800

See more words from the same year

Statistics for adipocere

Cite this Entry

“Adipocere.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/adipocere. Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for adipocere

adipocere

noun
ad·​i·​po·​cere | \ ˈad-ə-pə-ˌsi(ə)r How to pronounce adipocere (audio) \

Medical Definition of adipocere

: a waxy or unctuous brownish substance consisting chiefly of fatty acids and calcium soaps produced by chemical changes affecting dead body fat and muscle long buried or immersed in moisture

Other Words from adipocere

adipocerous \ ˌad-​ə-​ˈpäs-​(ə-​)rəs How to pronounce adipocerous (audio) , -​pə-​ˈsir-​əs How to pronounce adipocerous (audio) \ adjective

Comments on adipocere

What made you want to look up adipocere? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

May 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a blooming wisteria tree
  • Which is a synonym of exiguous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!