emol·​lient | \ i-ˈmäl-yənt How to pronounce emollient (audio) \

Definition of emollient

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : making soft or supple also : soothing especially to the skin or mucous membrane an emollient hand lotion
2 : making less intense or harsh : mollifying soothe us in our agonies with emollient words— H. L. Mencken



Definition of emollient (Entry 2 of 2)

: something that softens or soothes

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Emollient derives from the present participle of the Latin verb emollire, which, unsurprisingly, means "to soften or soothe." Emollire, in turn, derives ultimately from mollis, meaning "soft." Another descendant of mollis is mollify (essentially meaning "to make softer in temper or disposition"). A more distant relative is mild, which can be traced back to the same ancient source as mollis. The adjective emollient first appeared in print in English in the early 1600s; the noun arrived on the scene soon after.

Examples of emollient in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective This gentle cleanser is formulated with an emollient-rich surfactant and 3% concentration of key ingredients combining allantoin, glycerin, and orange oil to calm irritated skin while softening and restoring the skin’s surface. Grooming Playbook, The Salt Lake Tribune, 13 May 2022 Plus, ultra-emollient squalane and jojoba oil combine to nourish and soften the skin for a dewy glow. Grooming Playbook, The Salt Lake Tribune, 7 Apr. 2022 Some are gentle and emollient, while others can be harsh and astringent. Grooming Playbook, The Salt Lake Tribune, 7 Apr. 2022 Next, Devgan recommends adding an emollient moisturizer into your lineup. Kiana Murden, Vogue, 26 Jan. 2022 Often, those with dry skin types will benefit from using an emollient-rich body wash that has hydrating ingredients (but of course, this requires knowing what those ingredients are). Joseph Deacetis, Forbes, 27 Dec. 2021 Powell also advises against emollient-heavy formulas. Blake Newby, Allure, 11 June 2021 Because the formula is so emollient, the finish is subtly shiny, which makes lips look lush and healthy. Kaleigh Fasanella, Allure, 3 Oct. 2020 Several small randomized trials have found that parents who applied an emollient moisturizer to their infants’ skin each day for the first 6 to 7 months had babies who were less likely to develop eczema than parents who didn’t. Alice Callahan, New York Times, 17 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Shake the product to activate the two-phase product, which uses a lipid phase to easily lift heavy waterproof mascara and other cosmetics and an emollient phase that clears away makeup residue. Celia Shatzman, The Hollywood Reporter, 11 May 2022 Next, prep the skin with an emollient like a face oil or a balm that’s silky and doesn’t absorb right away to avoid tugging your skin. ELLE, 8 Apr. 2022 Pineapple extract soothes and softens the skin while honey melon extract delivers a host of vitamins and nutrients, and shea butter comes in as a rich emollient. Grooming Playbook, The Salt Lake Tribune, 7 Apr. 2022 This multitasking oil also contains emollient properties, provides antioxidants to fight oxidative stress and inflammation, has antimicrobial benefits, and even gets your skin rolling on collagen production. Grooming Playbook, The Salt Lake Tribune, 12 Apr. 2022 If your face is packed with dead skin cells, these products have to work even harder to penetrate deep into the skin to do their softening, emollient work. Grooming Playbook, The Salt Lake Tribune, 31 Mar. 2022 In fact, the storied history of this emollient — which comes from the nut of the shea tree, common in sub-Saharan Africa — apparently dates all the way back to Cleopatra herself, who was said to always keep a jar of it on hand. Rosemary Donahue, Allure, 1 Mar. 2022 Makeup artists and novices alike tend to avoid using the expensive and delicate natural hair fude brushes for emollient products. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, 1 Feb. 2022 Plus, thanks to their emollient and occlusive properties, body butters are a great choice for people with exceptionally dry skin. Lauren Dana, Glamour, 15 Feb. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'emollient.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of emollient


1626, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1656, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for emollient


Latin emollient-, emolliens, present participle of emollire to soften, from e- + mollis soft — more at mollify

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Last Updated

22 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Emollient.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/emollient. Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for emollient


emol·​lient | \ i-ˈmäl-yənt How to pronounce emollient (audio) \

Medical Definition of emollient

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: making soft or supple also : soothing especially to the skin or mucous membrane



Medical Definition of emollient (Entry 2 of 2)

: an emollient agent an emollient for the hands

More from Merriam-Webster on emollient

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for emollient

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about emollient


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