Try Our Apps


Avoid these words. Seriously.


[as-fawlt or, esp. British, -falt] /ˈæs fɔlt or, esp. British, -fælt/
any of various dark-colored, solid, bituminous substances, native in various areas of the earth and composed mainly of hydrocarbon mixtures.
a similar substance that is the by-product of petroleum-cracking operations.
a mixture of such substances with gravel, crushed rock, or the like, used for paving.
verb (used with object)
to cover or pave with asphalt.
of, relating to, or containing asphalt:
asphalt tile.
Origin of asphalt
1275-1325; earlier asphaltos, -um < Latin < Greek ásphaltos, -on, akin to asphalízein to make firm, to secure; replacing Middle English aspaltounGreek ásphalton
Related forms
asphaltic, adjective
asphaltlike, adjective
unasphalted, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for asphalt
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Steep hillsides are paved with cobblestones instead of asphalt.

    Common Science Carleton W. Washburne
  • In this way, the asphalt is held in position, and is an absolute prevention of dampness.

    Rural Hygiene Henry N. Ogden
  • As for where this asphalt come from, I don't know, and nobody knows.

    Plotting in Pirate Seas Francis Rolt-Wheeler
  • A recent rain had made the clay as slippery as asphalt in a drizzle.

  • A mixture of sand and asphalt will creep on slopes of 1½ to 1, but asphalt concrete will not.

    Concrete Construction Halbert P. Gillette
British Dictionary definitions for asphalt


/ˈæsfælt; ˈæʃ-; -fɔːlt/
any of several black semisolid substances composed of bitumen and inert mineral matter. They occur naturally in parts of America and as a residue from petroleum distillation: used as a waterproofing material and in paints, dielectrics, and fungicides
a mixture of this substance with gravel, used in road-surfacing and roofing materials
(modifier) containing or surfaced with asphalt
(transitive) to cover with asphalt
Derived Forms
asphaltic, adjective
Word Origin
C14: from Late Latin aspaltus, from Greek asphaltos, probably from a-1 + sphallein to cause to fall; referring to its use as a binding agent
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for asphalt

early 14c., "hard, resinous mineral pitch found originally in Biblical lands," from Late Latin asphaltum, from Greek asphaltos "asphalt, bitumen," probably from a non-Greek source, possibly Semitic [Klein, citing Lewy, 1895]. Another theory holds it to be from Greek a- "not" + *sphaltos "able to be thrown down," taken as verbal adjective of sphallein "to throw down," in reference to a use of the material in building.

Meaning "paving composition" dates from 1847 and its popular use in this sense established the modern form of the English word, mostly displacing asphaltum, asphaltos. As a verb meaning "to cover with asphalt," from 1872.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
asphalt in Science
A thick, sticky, dark-brown mixture of petroleum tars used in paving, roofing, and waterproofing. Asphalt is produced as a byproduct in refining petroleum or is found in natural beds.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Nearby words for asphalt

Word Value for asphalt

Scrabble Words With Friends