[ as-fawlt or, esp. British, -falt ]
/ ˈæs fɔlt or, esp. British, -fælt /


any of various dark-colored, solid, bituminous substances, native in various areas of the earth and composed mainly of hydrocarbon mixtures.
a similar substance that is the by-product of petroleum-cracking operations.
a mixture of such substances with gravel, crushed rock, or the like, used for paving.

verb (used with object)

to cover or pave with asphalt.


of, relating to, or containing asphalt: asphalt tile.


Origin of asphalt

1275–1325; earlier asphaltos, -um < Latin < Greek ásphaltos, -on, akin to asphalízein to make firm, to secure; replacing Middle English aspaltounGreek ásphalton

Related forms

as·phal·tic, adjectiveas·phalt·like, adjectiveun·as·phalt·ed, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for asphalt

British Dictionary definitions for asphalt


/ (ˈæsfælt, ˈæʃ-, -fɔːlt) /


any of several black semisolid substances composed of bitumen and inert mineral matter. They occur naturally in parts of America and as a residue from petroleum distillation: used as a waterproofing material and in paints, dielectrics, and fungicides
a mixture of this substance with gravel, used in road-surfacing and roofing materials
(modifier) containing or surfaced with asphalt


(tr) to cover with asphalt

Derived Forms

asphaltic, adjective

Word Origin for asphalt

C14: from Late Latin aspaltus, from Greek asphaltos, probably from a- 1 + sphallein to cause to fall; referring to its use as a binding agent
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

Science definitions for asphalt


[ ăsfôlt′ ]

A thick, sticky, dark-brown mixture of petroleum tars used in paving, roofing, and waterproofing. Asphalt is produced as a byproduct in refining petroleum or is found in natural beds.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.