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[ih-nam-uh l] /ɪˈnæm əl/
a glassy substance, usually opaque, applied by fusion to the surface of metal, pottery, etc., as an ornament or for protection.
any of various varnishes, paints, coatings, etc., drying to a hard, glossy finish.
any enamellike surface with a bright luster.
an artistic work executed in enamel.
Dentistry. the hard, glossy, calcareous covering of the crown of a tooth, containing only a slight amount of organic substance.
verb (used with object), enameled, enameling or (especially British) enamelled, enamelling.
to inlay or overlay with enamel.
to form an enamellike surface upon:
to enamel cardboard.
to decorate as with enamel; variegate with colors.
Origin of enamel
1275-1325; Middle English enamelen < Anglo-French enameler, enamailler, equivalent to en- en-1 + -amaler, derivative of asmal, esmal enamel, Old French esmail (-al taken as the suffix -ail) < Old Low Franconian *smalt- something melted, cognate with German Schmalz fat; akin to smelt1; cf. smalto
Related forms
enameler; especially British, enameller, noun
enamelist; especially British, enamellist, noun
enamelwork, noun
unenameled, adjective
unenamelled, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for enamel
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The enamel was cracked, and I followed every crack as well as every figure of the hours.

    Wilfrid Cumbermede George MacDonald
  • One suit was inlaid with enamel, black as ebony, and the other with red gold.

    If You Touch Them They Vanish Gouverneur Morris
  • It was also employed in enamel painting as it vitrified without change.

    Field's Chromatography George Field
  • In admixture it may safely be employed, as well as in fresco or enamel.

    Field's Chromatography George Field
  • Draw a picture of a tooth and label the crown, the enamel, the root, the pulp.

    A Handbook of Health

    Woods Hutchinson
  • With the aid of an enamel bucket, Mr. Abraham Levinsky filled the bath.

    The Yellow Claw Sax Rohmer
  • Colwyn opened the silver and enamel box, and emptied the matches on the table.

    The Shrieking Pit Arthur J. Rees
  • It is an enamel of the most superb and the rarest of elegant expressions in the Bible.

  • Motor-cars that were humiliating with their enamel and crystal were threading about.

    Waiting for Daylight Henry Major Tomlinson
British Dictionary definitions for enamel


a coloured glassy substance, translucent or opaque, fused to the surface of articles made of metal, glass, etc, for ornament or protection
an article or articles ornamented with enamel
an enamel-like paint or varnish
any smooth glossy coating resembling enamel
another word for nail polish
the hard white calcified substance that covers the crown of each tooth
  1. decorated or covered with enamel: an enamel ring
  2. made with enamel: enamel paste
verb (transitive) -els, -elling, -elled (US) -els, -eling, -eled
to inlay, coat, or otherwise decorate with enamel
to ornament with glossy variegated colours, as if with enamel
to portray in enamel
Derived Forms
enameller, enamellist, (US) enameler, enamelist, noun
enamelwork, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Old French esmail, of Germanic origin; compare Old High German smalz lard; see smelt1
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 enamel

early 14c., from Anglo-French enamailler (early 14c.), from en- "in" (see en- (1)) + amailler "to enamel," variant of Old French esmailler, from esmal "enamel," from Frankish *smalt, from Proto-Germanic *smaltjan "to smelt" (see smelt (v.)). Related: Enameled; enameling.


early 15c., from enamel (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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enamel in Medicine

enamel e·nam·el (ĭ-nām'əl)
The hard, calcareous substance covering the exposed portion of a tooth.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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enamel in Science
The hard, translucent substance covering the exposed portion of a tooth in mammals. Enamel is the hardest substance in the body, and consists mostly of calcium salts.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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enamel in Culture

enamel definition

The hard, white substance that covers the crown of a tooth.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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