emol·​lient | \i-ˈmäl-yənt \

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

Examples of emollient in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

On the other hand, emollient ingredients soften skin. Ashley Weatherford, The Cut, "Everything You Need to Know About Putting Oils on Your Face," 12 July 2018 The North’s relatively emollient tone suggests that there remains an opening for the summit to go ahead at a later date and for talks about it to carry on in the meantime. The Economist, "Donald Trump is undermining the coalition he built against North Korea," 25 May 2018 In 2010, a year after setting out that goal, Mr Obama’s administration negotiated the New START agreement with Dmitry Medvedev, Mr Putin’s more emollient sidekick and placeholder. The Economist, "Old deals to limit nuclear weapons are fraying. They may not be repaired," 5 May 2018 The government is now headed by a more emollient figure: a former banker who also continues to head the ministries of finance and economic development. The Economist, "DebeatifiedPoland’s prime minister gets the chop," 14 Dec. 2017 Not mascara, lip balm, or even my ride-or-die concealer, but the thick, ultra-emollient ointment that's saved my ass (er, my skin) too many times to count. Kaleigh Fasanella, Allure, "Aquaphor's $12 Ointment Spray Is a Game-Changer for People With Skin Conditions Like Mine," 3 Nov. 2017 Rich in emollient olive oil, this cleanser effortlessly removes even the most stubborn of waterproof makeup, but also deposits a slew of antioxidants onto the skin, which protect from environmental, free-radical damage. Rachel Jacoby Zoldan, Teen Vogue, "DHC Deep Cleansing Oil Review," 23 June 2017 Speaking in the courtyard of Louvre last night, Macron celebrated by striking a soothing, emollient tone. Isobel Thompson, The Hive, "France’s New President Is Already Fighting the Trump Agenda," 8 May 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

In both Skinfix products, there's a blend of hydrating emollients, like shea butter, to soothe just-exfoliated skin. Karina Hoshikawa, Allure, "Skinfix's Renewing Body Scrub & Cream Combo Is the Most Effective Keratosis Pilaris Treatment I've Ever Used," 27 Aug. 2018 Now here’s the important part: oils can function as an occlusive and as an emollient, but never as a humectant. Ashley Weatherford, The Cut, "Everything You Need to Know About Putting Oils on Your Face," 12 July 2018 The spray also provides heat protection up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, and contains an emollient blend for extra shine. Tess Garcia, Teen Vogue, "Living Proof Releases "Customizable" Body Builder Hairspray," 26 Aug. 2018 In this case, the brand included jojoba oil for its emollient properties, frankincense to calm and protect, castor oil to balance, and lanolin to moisturize. Marci Robin, Allure, "Rituel de Fille Is Launching The Ethereal Veil Conceal and Cover, the Brand's First-Ever Concealer," 18 Apr. 2018 And instead of hydrating, occlusive ingredients trap humectants and emollients onto your skin, so your skin can stay hydrated and soft throughout the day. Ashley Weatherford, The Cut, "Everything You Need to Know About Putting Oils on Your Face," 12 July 2018 To understand, let’s deconstruct a product that actually moisturizes — a lotion — and its three major umbrella ingredients: humectants, occlusives, and emollients. Ashley Weatherford, The Cut, "Everything You Need to Know About Putting Oils on Your Face," 12 July 2018 Even Di Robilant, who, by virtue of having been allotted Hemingway’s most desperate decade, ends up chronicler of some of the man’s most vicious moments, attempts to apply emollients. Dana Snitzky, Longreads, "Hemingway’s Last Girl," 12 July 2018 But a study released last week in BMJ shows that emollient bath additives simply do not help. Philly.com, "Bath additives not needed to treat eczema," 8 May 2018

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.

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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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The first known use of emollient was in 1626

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emol·​lient | \i-ˈmäl-yənt \

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

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about emollient

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