[ kam-fer ]

nounChemistry, Pharmacology.
  1. a whitish, translucent, crystalline, pleasant-odored terpene ketone, C10H16O, obtained from the camphor tree, used chiefly in the manufacture of celluloid and in medicine as a counter-irritant for infections and in the treatment of pain and itching.

  2. any substance having medicinal or aromatic characteristics similar to those of camphor.

Origin of camphor

1275–1325; <Medieval Latin, New Latin camphora ≪ Arabic kāfūr<Malay kapur chalk, lime, camphor; replacing Middle English caumfre<Anglo-French <Medieval Latin

Other words from camphor

  • cam·phor·a·ceous [kam-fuh-rey-shuhs], /ˌkæm fəˈreɪ ʃəs/, adjective
  • cam·phor·ic [kam-fawr-ik, -for-], /kæmˈfɔr ɪk, -ˈfɒr-/, adjective

Words Nearby camphor Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use camphor in a sentence

  • The camphor tree overhead was thrown out darkly against the stars, like its own shadow.

    The Dragon Painter | Mary McNeil Fenollosa

British Dictionary definitions for camphor


/ (ˈkæmfə) /

  1. a whitish crystalline aromatic terpene ketone obtained from the wood of the camphor tree or made from pinene: used in the manufacture of celluloid and in medicine as a liniment and treatment for colds. Formula: C 10 H 16 O

Origin of camphor

C15: from Old French camphre, from Medieval Latin camphora, from Arabic kāfūr, from Malay kāpūr chalk; related to Khmer kāpōr camphor

Derived forms of camphor

  • camphoric (kæmˈfɒrɪk), adjective

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

Scientific definitions for camphor


[ kămfər ]

  1. A white, gumlike, crystalline compound that has a strong odor. Camphor is volatile and is used as an insect repellent and in making plastics and explosives. Chemical formula: C10H16O.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.