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[naf-thuh, nap-] /ˈnæf θə, ˈnæp-/
a colorless, volatile petroleum distillate, usually an intermediate product between gasoline and benzine, used as a solvent, fuel, etc.
Compare mineral spirits.
any of various similar liquids distilled from other products.
Origin of naphtha
1565-75; < Latin < Greek náphthas, perhaps < Iranian *nafta, derivative of *nab- to be damp; compare Avestan napta- damp, Persian naft naphtha
Related forms
naphthous, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for naphtha
Historical Examples
  • Another of the most important groups of Russian industries is that of naphtha.

    England and Germany Emile Joseph Dillon
  • Chloroform, benzene, and naphtha are used on ordinary silks and linens.


    William H. Dooley
  • For what are aniline, paraffine, naphtha, and carbolic acid used?

    Commercial Geography

    Jacques W. Redway
  • About four, he asked for naphtha, but the last syllable died on his tongue.

  • The place reeks of naphtha, human flesh, bad language, and good-nature.

    Nights in London

    Thomas Burke
  • Brings the smell of naphtha from those works half a mile away.

    Patience Wins George Manville Fenn
  • His overcoat was a specious covering, and was not infrequently odorous of naphtha.

    T. Tembarom Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • I suppose we can send the naphtha launch for him if we stop, can't we?'

    The Diva's Ruby F. Marion Crawford
  • Wells are also dug in that neighbourhood, in which the naphtha is collected.

  • The application of naphtha to its preservation I have already mentioned.

    The Royal Institution Bence Jones
British Dictionary definitions for naphtha


/ˈnæfθə; ˈnæp-/
a distillation product from coal tar boiling in the approximate range 80–170°C and containing aromatic hydrocarbons
a distillation product from petroleum boiling in the approximate range 100–200°C and containing aliphatic hydrocarbons: used as a solvent and in petrol
an obsolete name for petroleum
Word Origin
C16: via Latin from Greek, of Iranian origin; related to Persian neft naphtha
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 naphtha

inflammable liquid distilled from petroleum, 1570s, from Latin, from Greek naphtha "bitumen," perhaps from Persian neft "pitch," or Aramaic naphta, nephta, but these could as well be from Greek. In Middle English as napte (late 14c.), from Old French napte, but the modern word is a re-introduction.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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naphtha in Medicine

naphtha naph·tha (nāf'thə, nāp'-)
Any of several highly volatile, flammable liquid mixtures of hydrocarbons distilled from petroleum, coal tar, or natural gas and used as solvents and in making various chemicals.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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naphtha in Science
Any of several liquid mixtures of hydrocarbons made by refining petroleum or by breaking down coal tar. Naphtha is usually flammable, and is used as a solvent and as an ingredient in gasoline. It is also used to make plastics.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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