sap·​o·​na·​ceous | \ ˌsa-pə-ˈnā-shəs How to pronounce saponaceous (audio) \

Definition of saponaceous

: resembling or having the qualities of soap

Other Words from saponaceous

saponaceousness noun

Did you know?

Saponaceous is a New Latin borrowing by scientists that is based on sapo, the Latin word for "soap." It describes natural substances, like aloe gel or some plant roots, used in making soap or having the properties of soap. It also describes things that feel or appear soapy-for example, some shales and clays, mica, and certain chemical preparations. In the 19th century, saponaceous began to be used for people having a slippery, evasive, or elusive character. One famous example is the elocutionist Bishop Wilberforce whom British politician Benjamin Disraeli described as "unctuous, oleaginous, saponaceous." In The Devil's Dictionary, author Ambrose Bierce uses Disraeli's quote to illustrate the word oleaginous, noting that "the good prelate was ever afterward known as Soapy Sam."

First Known Use of saponaceous

1710, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for saponaceous

New Latin saponaceus, from Latin sapon-, sapo soap, of Germanic origin; akin to Old English sāpe soap

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The first known use of saponaceous was in 1710

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Cite this Entry

“Saponaceous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2021.

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More Definitions for saponaceous


sap·​o·​na·​ceous | \ ˌsap-ə-ˈnā-shəs How to pronounce saponaceous (audio) \

Medical Definition of saponaceous

: resembling or having the qualities of soap a saponaceous preparation


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