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

Examples of emollient in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective 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, "The New Rules of Food Allergy Prevention, Testing and Diagnosis," 17 Apr. 2020 Johns recommends that people apply a thick, emollient moisturizer in ointment form — such as Aquaphor Healing Ointment, rather than relying on creams and lotions, which can have alcohol and cause further drying. Rebecca Gale, Washington Post, "Don’t stop at washing your hands to prevent coronavirus. Moisturize them, too.," 6 Mar. 2020 But for most politicians, dogs are no-downside campaign enhancers: friendly foils, emollient front-animals, reliable comic relief providers, and slobbery good will ambassadors. Sarah Lyall, New York Times, "When Your Best Surrogate Can’t Talk," 28 Jan. 2020 Get our daily newsletter Hours later, America’s State Department issued a more emollient statement. The Economist, "Nuclear talks between North Korea and America break down, again," 6 Oct. 2019 Both Zeichner and Liverman recommend adding a more emollient moisturizer, as well as an extra-hydrating serum when the temperature drops. Bella Cacciatore, Glamour, "How 5 Women With Great Skin Transition Their Skin-Care Routines to Fall," 30 Sep. 2019 Labour’s emollient approach means that the Tories no longer need to be macho about welfare. The Economist, "British attitudes to welfare have undergone a quiet revolution," 11 July 2019 Next is the Eye Concentrate, a rich, emollient cream formulated with magnetically charged hematite to melt away the appearance of dark circles and discoloration. Alexis Rhiannon, Allure, "This Luxe La Mer Skin-Care Is Sure to Sell Out During the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale," 12 July 2019 Fortunately, a class of rich, emollient cold-weather creams is here to help. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "The 10 Best Moisturizers to Save Dry Winter Skin," 15 Jan. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun One-fifth of this hand cream is organic shea butter, which functions as an effective emollient (a product that seals in moisture). Popular Science, "The best hand creams to soothe and protect your paws," 18 June 2020 The sunscreen is barely there, lightweight oil finish, and includes emollients like coconut extract, Shea butter and avocado oil to give skin nourishment in addition to sun protection. Popular Science, "Powerful, fast-absorbing sunscreens to protect your skin," 18 May 2020 Commercial variants are little more than a whole lot of ordinary alcohol and a generous dollop of some kind of emollient to keep the skin from drying out. Jeffrey Kluger, Time, "DIY Alternatives for When Stores Are Out of Coronavirus-Fighting Products," 1 Apr. 2020 This is why most hand sanitizers contain emollients, which are mixtures that help soften and moisturize your skin. Jeffrey Gardner, The Conversation, "Vodka won’t protect you from coronavirus, and 4 other things to know about hand sanitizer," 13 Mar. 2020 Paula’s Choice recommends using this emollient-rich balm on lips, heels, elbows, and even your nail cuticles. Madison Durham, USA TODAY, "20 top-rated skincare products you can get at Paula’s Choice," 12 Mar. 2020 In particular, because of their emollient oily nature, these products can help the other ingredients in the product (like the vitamin E and A in Bio-Oil, for instance) penetrate through the oily layer on top of your skin. Sarah Jacoby, SELF, "Can You Use Bio-Oil On Your Face?," 21 Feb. 2020 Other types of emollients include lecithin, isopropyl myristate and isopropyl palmitate. Nia Decaille, Washington Post, "A guide to the confusing and sometimes controversial ingredients in your cosmetics," 7 Feb. 2020 Dimethicone and cyclomethicone are emollients that lock in moisture while also acting as a spackle between cells to make skin look smoother and silkier, Waldorf says. NBC News, "How to reduce dark under-eye circles, according to dermatologists," 29 Jan. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about emollient

Time Traveler for emollient

Time Traveler

The first known use of emollient was in 1626

See more words from the same year

Statistics for emollient

Cite this Entry

“Emollient.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/emollient. Accessed 9 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on emollient

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


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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