sa·​pon·​i·​fi·​ca·​tion | \ sə-ˌpä-nə-fə-ˈkā-shən How to pronounce saponification (audio) \

Definition of saponification

: the act, process, or result of making soap : conversion into soap

Examples of saponification in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web During the saponification process, the body’s fatty acids turn into a waxy, soap-like compound that covers the corpse and prevents putrefaction. Oscar Urbiola, National Geographic, "How did 18th-century vampire hunters identify the undead? Blood and fingernails," 29 Oct. 2019 When combined, the reaction is called 'saponification'. Meghan Caudill, Good Housekeeping, "How To Make Homemade Soap From Scratch In 6 Easy Steps," 8 Jan. 2018 This allows the soap to finish saponification and for all the excess water to evaporate. Meghan Caudill, Good Housekeeping, "How To Make Homemade Soap From Scratch In 6 Easy Steps," 8 Jan. 2018 In a process called saponification, an alkali is used to cause changes in animal or vegetable fats, leaving behind soap and glycerol. C. Claiborne Ray, New York Times, "In Your Bathroom, the Scum of the Earth," 6 Apr. 2018 In 2011, Joel Ducoste of North Carolina State University and his team reported that the same process that can turn lard into soap, called saponification, happens in sewer grease if calcium’s around. Erika Engelhaupt, National Geographic, "Huge Blobs of Fat and Trash Are Filling the World’s Sewers," 16 Aug. 2017 That's because typical biodiesel processing uses lye, which turns into soap when it's combined with highly fatty oils in a reaction called saponification, Hood said. Brittany Crocker, USA TODAY, "Used tires, bacon grease can be the fuel of the future," 10 Aug. 2017 In other words, the saponification had turned them soap-like. Julia Jones, CNN, "Dozens of intact brains discovered in an 80-year-old mass grave," 14 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'saponification.' 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 saponification

1817, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of saponification was in 1817

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Cite this Entry

“Saponification.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for saponification


sa·​pon·​i·​fi·​ca·​tion | \ sə-ˌpän-ə-fə-ˈkā-shən How to pronounce saponification (audio) \

Medical Definition of saponification

1 : the hydrolysis of a fat by an alkali with the formation of a soap and glycerol
2 : the hydrolysis especially by an alkali of an ester into the corresponding alcohol and acid broadly : hydrolysis

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