[koh-puh l, -pal]


a hard, lustrous resin obtained from various tropical trees and used chiefly in making varnishes.

Origin of copal

1570–80; < Mexican Spanish < Nahuatl copalli Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for copal

Historical Examples of copal

  • Their base is Copal, a fossil, resinous substance of vegetable origin.

    Handwork in Wood

    William Noyes

  • Use with oil on shellac and with oil or water on copal varnish.

    Handwork in Wood

    William Noyes

  • This they smeared with a paint made by the admixture of camwood and copal gum.


    Edgar Wallace

  • It is principally employed in the preparation of copal varnish.

    A Treatise on Domestic Economy

    Catherine Esther Beecher

  • Father Brandsma is devoting some of his energy to a change in copal gathering.

    An African Adventure

    Isaac F. Marcosson

British Dictionary definitions for copal



a hard aromatic resin, yellow, orange, or red in colour, obtained from various tropical trees and used in making varnishes and lacquers

Word Origin for copal

C16: from Spanish, from Nahuatl copalli resin
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