from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Any of several highly volatile, flammable liquid mixtures of hydrocarbons distilled from petroleum, coal tar, and natural gas and used as fuel, as solvents, and in making various chemicals.
  • n. Obsolete Petroleum.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Naturally-occurring liquid petroleum.
  • n. Any of a wide variety of aliphatic or aromatic liquid hydrocarbon mixtures distilled from petroleum or coal tar, especially as used in solvents or petrol.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The complex mixture of volatile, liquid, inflammable hydrocarbons, occurring naturally, and usually called crude petroleum, mineral oil, or rock oil.
  • n. One of several volatile inflammable liquids obtained by the distillation of certain carbonaceous materials and resembling the naphtha from petroleum

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In ancient writers, a more fluid and volatile variety of asphalt or bitumen.
  • n. In modern use, an artificial volatile colorless liquid obtained from petroleum.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. any of various volatile flammable liquid hydrocarbon mixtures; used chiefly as solvents


Latin, from Greek, liquid bitumen, of Semitic origin; see npṭ in Semitic roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin naphtha, from Ancient Greek νάφθα (náphtha), ultimately from Old Persian 𐎴𐎳𐎫 (naft). The Greek mediation is reflected in the spelling – ‘ph’ and ‘th’ (from ‘φ’ and ‘θ’). (Wiktionary)



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  • Latin, from Greek, of Iranian origin; akin to Avestan napta moist, Persian neft naphtha; from Persian naft "naphtha". perhaps akin to Greek nephos cloud, mist. petroleum especially when occurring in any of its more volatile varieties.Here go the moist debates again!

    August 31, 2009