sur·​fac·​tant (ˌ)sər-ˈfak-tənt How to pronounce surfactant (audio)
: a surface-active substance (such as a detergent)
surfactant adjective

Examples of surfactant in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Each pack contains surfactants and a color-safe bleach to clean and remove carpet stains. Carolyn Forté, Good Housekeeping, 15 Aug. 2023 Look for enzymes or surfactants which are often used to help break down greasy residues. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 22 Apr. 2023 Type of Face Wash Basically all face washes perform the same task, says Dr. Ilyas: cleaning your skin through the use of surfactants and detergents, pulling away oil or grease and dirt from your skin while leaving behind hydration. Sarah Bradley, Health, 8 Aug. 2023 Because the satellites easily spot surfactants' smoothing effect, the substances can act as a tracer for microplastics' movements, the researchers say. Lauren J. Young, Scientific American, 26 Apr. 2023 Foliar applications of calcium nitrate fertilizers or calcium chloride dihydrate (1.5 teaspoons per gal water plus 0.5 teaspoon of a surfactant) on a weekly basis during fruiting can provide necessary calcium when needed. oregonlive, 29 July 2023 This comparison should further solidify the correlation between surfactants and microplastics, Pan says. Lauren J. Young, Scientific American, 26 Apr. 2023 The premade mixture uses the active ingredients sodium lauryl sulfate (a surfactant used in soaps) and malic acid (found in fruit) and comes in a stand-up jar. Lauren Piro, Good Housekeeping, 30 June 2023 Coal cars are sprayed with a liquid surfactant that prevents dust from flying off, but that surfactant degrades with time and weathering, Ostro said. Claire Hao, San Francisco Chronicle, 3 May 2023 See More

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

Word History


surface-active + -ant

First Known Use

1950, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of surfactant was in 1950

Dictionary Entries Near surfactant

Cite this Entry

“Surfactant.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Sep. 2023.

Medical Definition


sur·​fac·​tant (ˌ)sər-ˈfak-tənt, ˈsər-ˌ How to pronounce surfactant (audio)
: a surface-active substance
specifically : a surface-active lipoprotein mixture which coats the alveoli and which prevents collapse of the lungs by reducing the surface tension of pulmonary fluids
surfactant adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on surfactant

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