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

transitive verb

: to convert (something, such as fat) into soap
specifically : to hydrolyze (a fat) with alkali to form a soap and glycerol
saponifiable adjective
saponifier 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 examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'saponify.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


French saponifier, from Latin sapon-, sapo

First Known Use

1821, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of saponify was in 1821

Dictionary Entries Near saponify

Cite this Entry

“Saponify.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jun. 2024.

Medical Definition


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

transitive verb

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

intransitive verb

: to undergo saponification
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