Share this entry

Share this page

spermaceti

Syllabification: sper·ma·cet·i
Pronunciation: /ˌspərməˈsedē
 
/

Definition of spermaceti in English:

noun

A white waxy substance produced by the sperm whale, formerly used in candles and ointments. It is present in a rounded organ in the head, where it focuses acoustic signals and aids in the control of buoyancy.
Example sentences
  • In Bénard cells, which also form on the surface of the sun, the organizing gradient is literally a temperature gradient across a viscous fluid, sometimes spermaceti, sperm whale oil.
  • Some ziphiids are pursued by whalers for their oil and spermaceti.
  • Still, whale-related products remained in high demand, especially the fine oil derived from spermaceti (the oil extracted from the head of sperm whales).

Origin

late 15th century: from medieval Latin, from late Latin sperma 'sperm' + ceti 'of a whale' (genitive of cetus, from Greek kētos 'whale'), from the belief that it was whale spawn.

Definition of spermaceti in:

Share this entry

Share this page

 

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day reciprocity
Pronunciation: ˌrɛsɪˈprɒsɪti
noun
exchanging things with others for mutual benefit…