[bahy-too-muh n, -tyoo-, bi-, bich-oo-]


any of various natural substances, as asphalt, maltha, or gilsonite, consisting mainly of hydrocarbons.
(formerly) an asphalt of Asia Minor used as cement and mortar.


Nearby words

  1. bitterwort,
  2. bitting,
  3. bittock,
  4. bittorrent,
  5. bitty,
  6. bituminize,
  7. bituminous,
  8. bituminous coal,
  9. bitzer,
  10. biunique

Origin of bitumen

1425–75; late Middle English bithumen < Latin bitūmen

Related formsbi·tu·mi·noid [bahy-too-muh-noid, -tyoo-, bi-] /baɪˈtu məˌnɔɪd, -ˈtyu-, bɪ-/, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for bitumen

British Dictionary definitions for bitumen



any of various viscous or solid impure mixtures of hydrocarbons that occur naturally in asphalt, tar, mineral waxes, etc: used as a road surfacing and roofing material
the constituents of coal that can be extracted by an organic solvent
any liquid suitable for coating aggregates
the bitumen
  1. Australian and NZ informalany road with a bitumen surface
  2. (capital) Australian informalthe road in the Northern Territory between Darwin and Alice Springs
a transparent brown pigment or glaze made from asphalt
Derived Formsbituminous (bɪˈtjuːmɪnəs), adjective

Word Origin for bitumen

C15: from Latin bitūmen, perhaps of Celtic origin

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 bitumen



mid-15c., from Latin bitumen "asphalt," probably, via Oscan or Umbrian, from Celtic *betu- "birch, birch resin" (cf. Gaulish betulla "birch," used by Pliny for the tree supposedly the source of bitumen).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Science definitions for bitumen



Any of various flammable mixtures of hydrocarbons and other substances found in asphalt and tar. Bitumens occur naturally or are produced from petroleum and coal.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.