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  1. a fatty substance, extracted from wool, used in ointments, cosmetics, waterproof coatings, etc.
Also lan·o·line [lan-l-in, -l-een] /ˈlæn l ɪn, -lˌin/.

Origin of lanolin

1880–85; < Latin lān(a) wool + -ol2 + -in2
Also called wool fat.
Related formslan·o·lat·ed [lan-l-ey-tid] /ˈlæn lˌeɪ tɪd/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for lanolin

Historical Examples

  • Preferably here one should use an ointment instead of collodion; salicylic acid 40 parts, vaseline 30 parts and lanolin 30 parts.

    Touring Afoot

    Claude Powell Fordyce

  • Lanolin is said to surpass in its power of penetration all other bases, but this is not borne out by experience.

    Essentials of Diseases of the Skin

    Henry Weightman Stelwagon

  • Lard, petrolatum (or cosmoline or vaseline), cold cream and lanolin.

    Essentials of Diseases of the Skin

    Henry Weightman Stelwagon

  • Wool′fat, lanolin; Wool′fell, the skin with the wool still on it; Wool′-gath′ering, indulgence of idle fancies.

  • Evidently this imposingly named product is practically a lanolin ointment containing oil of wintergreen and menthol.

British Dictionary definitions for lanolin


lanoline (ˈlænəlɪn, -ˌliːn)

  1. a yellowish viscous substance extracted from wool, consisting of a mixture of esters of fatty acids: used in some ointmentsAlso called: wool fat
Derived Formslanolated (ˈlænəˌleɪtɪd), adjective

Word Origin

C19: via German from Latin lāna wool + oleum oil; see -in
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 lanolin


fatty matter extracted from sheep's wool," 1885, from German Lanolin, coined by German physician Mathias Eugenius Oscar Liebreich (1838-1908) from Latin lana "wool" (see wool) + oleum "oil, fat" (see oil (n.)) + chemical suffix -in (2).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

lanolin in Medicine


  1. A fatty substance obtained from wool and used in soaps, cosmetics, and ointments.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

lanolin in Science


  1. A yellowish-white wax secreted by the sebaceous glands of sheep to coat wool. Lanolin is composed of esters and polyesters of almost seventy alcohols and fatty acids. Since it is easily absorbed by the skin, it is used in soaps, cosmetics, and ointments.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.