- an opaque, ash-colored secretion of the sperm whale intestine, usually found floating on the ocean or cast ashore: used in perfumery.
Origin of ambergris
Examples from the Web for ambergris
To one pint of highly rectified spirits of wine, put an ounce of the oil of rosemary, and two drams of the essence of ambergris.
The hatches were off her hold and our sealskins and our ambergris gone from below.
We boarded Red Dick's steamer, and there were our sealskins and ambergris.
This and an ounce of ambergris were left with him for his personal use.Sir Walter Ralegh
A drop or two (not more) of essence of ambergris or vanilla improves it.Cooley's Practical Receipts, Volume II
- a waxy substance consisting mainly of cholesterol secreted by the intestinal tract of the sperm whale and often found floating in the sea: used in the manufacture of perfumes
Word Origin and History for ambergris
early 15c., from Middle French ambre gris "gray amber" (see amber), "a wax-like substance of ashy colour, found floating in tropical seas, a morbid secretion from the intestines of the sperm-whale. Used in perfumery, and formerly in cookery" [OED]. King Charles II's favorite dish was said to be eggs and ambergris [Macauley, "History of England"]. French gris is from Frankish *gris or some other Germanic source (cf. Dutch grijs, Old High German gris; see gray).
Praise is like ambergris; a little whiff of it, by snatches, is very agreeable; but when a man holds a whole lump of it to his nose, it is a stink and strikes you down. [Pope, c.1720]
- A yellow, gray, or black waxy material formed in the intestines of sperm whales that consists of a mixture of steroid derivatives. It is often found floating at sea or washed ashore, has a pleasant odor, and is added to perfumes as a fixative to slow down the rate of evaporation.