detergent

[ dih-tur-juh nt ]
/ dɪˈtɜr dʒənt /

noun

any of a group of synthetic, organic, liquid or water-soluble cleaning agents that, unlike soap, are not prepared from fats and oils, are not inactivated by hard water, and have wetting-agent and emulsifying-agent properties.
a similar substance that is oil-soluble and capable of holding insoluble foreign matter in suspension, used in lubricating oils, dry-cleaning preparations, etc.
any cleansing agent, including soap.Compare anionic detergent, cationic detergent, synthetic detergent.

adjective

cleansing; purging.

RELATED WORDS

Origin of detergent

1610–20; (< F) < Latin dētergent- (stem of dētergēns) wiping off (present participle of dētergēre). See deterge, -ent

Related forms

non·de·ter·gent, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for detergent

British Dictionary definitions for detergent

detergent

/ (dɪˈtɜːdʒənt) /

noun

a cleansing agent, esp a surface-active chemical such as an alkyl sulphonate, widely used in industry, laundering, shampoos, etc

adjective Also: detersive (dɪˈtɜːsɪv)

having cleansing power

Word Origin for detergent

C17: from Latin dētergēns wiping off; see deterge
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

Medicine definitions for detergent

detergent

[ dĭ-tûrjənt ]

n.

A cleansing substance that acts similarly to soap but is made from chemical compounds rather than fats and lye.

adj.

Having cleansing power.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for detergent

detergent

[ dĭ-tûrjənt ]

A cleaning agent that increases the ability of water to penetrate fabric and break down greases and dirt. Detergents act like soap but, unlike soaps, they are derived from organic acids rather than fatty acids. Their molecules surround particles of grease and dirt, allowing them to be carried away. Compare soap.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.