sa·​pon·​i·​fy | \ sə-ˈpä-nə-ˌfī How to pronounce saponify (audio) \
saponified; saponifying

Definition of saponify

transitive verb

: to convert (something, such as fat) into soap specifically : to hydrolyze (a fat) with alkali to form a soap and glycerol

Other Words from saponify

saponifiable \ sə-​ˈpä-​nə-​ˌfī-​ə-​bəl How to pronounce saponify (audio) \ adjective
saponifier \ sə-​ˈpä-​nə-​ˌfī(-​ə)r How to pronounce saponify (audio) \ noun

Examples of saponify in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Although rare to find, cerebral tissues found in archaeological discoveries have saponified, the process by which triglycerides turn into glycerol and fatty acid salts, or soap. Fox News, 24 Jan. 2020 Beauty products include deodorant cream made with local California sagebrush and arrowroot, as well as the cleansing version of your favorite latte: a golden milk soap saponified with raw goat milk, turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, and ginger. Dakota Kim, Sunset Magazine, 10 Feb. 2020 Made out of a formula that was discovered loosely placed in an old New England Cookbook, this all-natural shampoo bar is made of just three ingredients: saponified olive oil, coconut oil, and castor oil. Popular Science, 29 Jan. 2020

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

1821, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for saponify

French saponifier, from Latin sapon-, sapo

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Time Traveler for saponify

Time Traveler

The first known use of saponify was in 1821

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Dictionary Entries Near saponify

saponification value



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Cite this Entry

“Saponify.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for saponify


sa·​pon·​i·​fy | \ sə-ˈpän-ə-ˌfī How to pronounce saponify (audio) \
saponified; saponifying

Medical Definition of saponify

transitive verb

: to convert (as a fat or fatty acid) into soap : subject to saponification

intransitive verb

: to undergo saponification


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