paraffin

noun

par·​af·​fin ˈper-ə-fən How to pronounce paraffin (audio)
ˈpa-rə-
1
a
: a waxy crystalline flammable substance obtained especially from distillates of wood, coal, petroleum, or shale oil that is a complex mixture of hydrocarbons and is used chiefly in coating and sealing, in candles, in rubber compounding, and in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics
b
: any of various mixtures of similar hydrocarbons including mixtures that are semisolid or oily
2
: alkane
3
chiefly British : kerosene
paraffinic adjective

Examples of paraffin in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The set comes with two pieces, a 3-inch by 3-inch size and a 3-inch by 6-inch size, made with paraffin wax and wrapped up in one of four floral prints, including the earthy colors of menagerie and the cheerful colors of a garden party. Lauren Fischer, Southern Living, 7 Feb. 2024 The candle’s premium-grade paraffin wax has a 100 percent natural wick fiber that gives off a clean, even burn that can last for up to 150 hours. Nicol Natale, Peoplemag, 28 Jan. 2024 The blaze had swept through a government property at 80 Albert Street, a deathtrap of a building where squatters pilfered electricity, built indoor shacks out of cardboard and cooked on paraffin stoves. John Eligon, New York Times, 10 Nov. 2023 This set is made with 100% pure paraffin wax and hand poured to create the look of a traditional candle. Addie Morton, Southern Living, 28 Nov. 2023 One thing to note: The candle is made out of paraffin wax, which Green notes is believed by some to emit carcinogens. Michelle Rostamian, Better Homes & Gardens, 21 Nov. 2023 To make a decorative bottle like this trio from Hearth and Vine, choose your vessel and blooms, then pour in a clear, stable oil like baby, mineral, or paraffin oil. Alyssa Longobucco, House Beautiful, 30 Aug. 2023 One is on display: the Thomas W. Lawson, which wrecked off the Cornish coast of the English Channel during a hard gale in December 1907, causing the first large marine oil spill as its cargo, light paraffin oil, emptied into the sea. Cate McQuaid, BostonGlobe.com, 30 Aug. 2023 This candle is made with food-grade paraffin wax for a long-lasting fragrance and clean burn. L. Daniela Alvarez, Better Homes & Gardens, 27 Oct. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'paraffin.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

German, from Latin parum too little (akin to Greek pauros little, paid-, pais child) + affinis bordering on — more at few, affinity

First Known Use

1835, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of paraffin was in 1835

Dictionary Entries Near paraffin

Cite this Entry

“Paraffin.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/paraffin. Accessed 21 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

paraffin

noun
par·​af·​fin ˈpar-ə-fən How to pronounce paraffin (audio)
: a flammable waxy substance obtained from wood, coal, or petroleum and used chiefly in coating and sealing, in candles, and in drugs and cosmetics

Medical Definition

paraffin

noun
par·​af·​fin ˈpar-ə-fən How to pronounce paraffin (audio)
1
a
: a waxy crystalline flammable substance obtained especially from distillates of wood, coal, petroleum, or shale oil that is a complex mixture of hydrocarbons and is used chiefly in coating and sealing, in candles, in rubber compounding, and in pharmaceuticals and cosmetics
b
: any of various mixtures of similar hydrocarbons including mixtures that are semisolid or oily
2
: alkane
paraffinic adjective

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