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[bawr-aks, -uh ks, bohr-] /ˈbɔr æks, -əks, ˈboʊr-/
noun, plural boraxes, boraces
[bawr-uh-seez, bohr-] /ˈbɔr əˌsiz, ˈboʊr-/ (Show IPA)
a white, water-soluble powder or crystals, hydrated sodium borate, Na 2 B 4 O 7 ⋅10H 2 O, occurring naturally or obtained from naturally occurring borates; tincal: used as a flux, cleansing agent, in the manufacture of glass, porcelain, and enamel, and in tanning.
Origin of borax1
1350-1400; < Medieval Latindialectal Arabic būraq < Middle Persian būrag; replacing Middle English boras < Middle French < Medieval Latin borax


[bawr-aks, -uh ks, bohr-] /ˈbɔr æks, -əks, ˈboʊr-/
cheap, showy, poorly made merchandise, especially cheaply built furniture of an undistinguished or heterogeneous style.
An Americanism dating back to 1940-45; of uncertain origin Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for borax


noun (pl) -raxes, -races (-rəˌsiːz)
Also called tincal. a soluble readily fusible white mineral consisting of impure hydrated disodium tetraborate in monoclinic crystalline form, occurring in alkaline soils and salt deposits. Formula: Na2B4O7.10H2O
pure disodium tetraborate
Word Origin
C14: from Old French boras, from Medieval Latin borax, from Arabic būraq, from Persian būrah
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
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Word Origin and History for borax

late 14c., from Anglo-French boras, from Medieval Latin baurach, from Arabic buraq, applied by the Arabs to various substances used as fluxes, probably from Persian burah. Originally obtained in Europe from the bed of salt lakes in Tibet.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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borax in Medicine

borax bo·rax1 (bôr'āks', -əks)
Sodium borate.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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borax in Science
A white, crystalline powder and mineral used as an antiseptic, as a cleansing agent, and in fusing metals and making heat-resistant glass. The mineral is an ore of boron and also occurs in yellowish, blue, or green varieties. Chemical formula: Na2B4O7·10H2O.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for borax



: strictly a piece of borax junk


  1. Cheap or inferior material; shoddy merchandise
  2. Exaggeration; misrepresentation; horseshit •This may derive fr sense of the talk of borax salesmen, or it may be the ultimate source of all other senses: borak or borax, fr an aboriginal language, has been used in Australia since at least the 1840s to mean ''nonsense''; hence it might have developed (pejorated) to mean ''horseshit'' and found its way to the US
  3. Any gaudy item; tasteless bric-a-brac (1940s+)

[1920s+ Furniture business; origin unknown; it has been suggested that sellers of cleansers based on the mineral borax gave away cheap furniture to customers]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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