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[suh-pon-uh-fahy] /səˈpɒn əˌfaɪ/ Chemistry
verb (used with object), saponified, saponifying.
to convert (a fat) into soap by treating with an alkali.
to decompose (any ester), forming the corresponding alcohol and acid or salt.
verb (used without object), saponified, saponifying.
to become converted into soap.
Origin of saponify
1815-25; < Latin sāpōn- (stem of sāpō) soap + -ify
Related forms
saponifiable, adjective
saponification, noun
saponifier, noun
nonsaponifiable, adjective
nonsaponification, noun
unsaponifiable, adjective
unsaponified, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for unsaponifiable
Historical Examples
  • unsaponifiable matter is present in rosin in varying amounts.

  • unsaponifiable matter, determination of by standard method, 176.

    Soap-Making Manual E. G. Thomssen
  • This fat is somewhat tough and sticky, and the amount of unsaponifiable matter present is sometimes considerable.

  • The residue, dried in the oven at 100° C. until constant, is the "unsaponifiable matter," which is calculated to per cent.

  • Besides these it is often necessary to determine insoluble matter, glycerine, unsaponifiable matter, rosin and sugar.

    Soap-Making Manual E. G. Thomssen
  • unsaponifiable matter should not be confused in the lay mind with insoluble impurities or soluble mineral matter.

    Soap-Making Manual E. G. Thomssen
  • The unsaponifiable matter in these is purely natural, it will be seen it varies within wide limits.

  • These oils vary in their saponification number from 10 to 60, while their unsaponifiable value averages about 80.

    Paint Technology and Tests Henry A. Gardner
British Dictionary definitions for unsaponifiable


verb (chem) -fies, -fying, -fied
to undergo or cause to undergo a process in which a fat is converted into a soap by treatment with alkali
to undergo or cause to undergo a reaction in which an ester is hydrolysed to an acid and an alcohol as a result of treatment with an alkali
Derived Forms
saponifiable, adjective
saponifier, noun
saponification, noun
Word Origin
C19: from French saponifier, from Latin sāpōsoap
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 unsaponifiable



1821, from French saponifier (see saponification). Related: Saponified; saponifying.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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unsaponifiable in Medicine

saponify sa·pon·i·fy (sə-pŏn'ə-fī')
v. sa·pon·i·fied, sa·pon·i·fy·ing, sa·pon·i·fies
To undergo saponification.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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