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[glis-uh-rawl, -rol]
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  1. a colorless, odorless, syrupy, sweet liquid, C3H8O3, usually obtained by the saponification of natural fats and oils: used for sweetening and preserving food, in the manufacture of cosmetics, perfumes, inks, and certain glues and cements, as a solvent and automobile antifreeze, and in medicine in suppositories and skin emollients.

Origin of glycerol

First recorded in 1880–85; glycer(in) + -ol1
Also called glycerin, glycerine.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for glycerol

Historical Examples

  • In some cases the fatty acids are combined with other bases than glycerol.

    The Handbook of Soap Manufacture

    W. H. Simmons

  • No glycollic acid, oxalic acid, glycol, or glycerol was produced.

  • Determine the acetin value of the residue at in terms of glycerol.

    Soap-Making Manual

    E. G. Thomssen

  • Caustic soda cannot be substituted for caustic potash in the glycerol method.

    Soap-Making Manual

    E. G. Thomssen

  • After correcting for the blank, calculate the result to glycerol.

    Soap-Making Manual

    E. G. Thomssen

British Dictionary definitions for glycerol


  1. a colourless or pale yellow odourless sweet-tasting syrupy liquid; 1,2,3-propanetriol: a by-product of soap manufacture, used as a solvent, antifreeze, plasticizer, and sweetener (E422). Formula: C 3 H 8 O 3Also called (not in technical usage): glycerine, glycerin

Word Origin

C19: from glycer (ine) + -ol 1
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

Word Origin and History for glycerol


1884, from glycerine + -ol, suffix denoting alcohols.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

glycerol in Medicine


([object Object])
  1. A sweet syrupy fluid obtained by the saponification of fats and fixed oils, used as a solvent, a skin emollient, and as a vehicle and sweetening agent; it is also used by injection or in suppository form for constipation and orally to reduce ocular tension.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

glycerol in Science


  1. A sweet, syrupy liquid obtained from animal fats and oils or by the fermentation of glucose. It is used as a solvent, sweetener, and antifreeze and in making explosives and soaps. Glycerol consists of a propane molecule attached to three hydroxyl (OH) groups. Also called glycerin, glycerine. Chemical formula: C3H8O3.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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