[ dis-tl-ey-shuhn ]
See synonyms for distillation on Thesaurus.com
  1. the volatilization or evaporation and subsequent condensation of a liquid, as when water is boiled in a retort and the steam is condensed in a cool receiver.

  2. the purification or concentration of a substance, the obtaining of the essence or volatile properties contained in it, or the separation of one substance from another, by such a process.

  1. a product of distilling; distillate.

  2. the act or fact of distilling or the state of being distilled.

Origin of distillation

1350–1400; Middle English distillacioun (<Anglo-French ) <Latin distillātiōn- (stem of distillātiō), equivalent to distillāt(us) distillate + -iōn--ion

Other words from distillation

  • dis·til·la·to·ry [dih-stil-uh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee], /dɪˈstɪl əˌtɔr i, -ˌtoʊr i/, dis·til·la·tive [dih-stil-uh-tiv], /dɪˈstɪl ə tɪv/, adjective
  • non·dis·til·la·tion, noun
  • re·dis·til·la·tion, noun

Words Nearby distillation

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use distillation in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for distillation


/ (ˌdɪstɪˈleɪʃən) /

  1. the act, process, or product of distilling

  2. the process of evaporating or boiling a liquid and condensing its vapour

  1. purification or separation of mixture by using different evaporation rates or boiling points of their components: See also fractional distillation

  2. the process of obtaining the essence or an extract of a substance, usually by heating it in a solvent

  3. another name for distillate (def. 1)

  4. a concentrated essence

Derived forms of distillation

  • distillatory, 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 distillation


[ dĭs′tə-lāshən ]

  1. A method of separating a substance that is in solution from its solvent or of separating a liquid from a mixture of liquids having different boiling points. The liquid to be separated is evaporated (as by boiling), and its vapor is then collected after it condenses. Distillation is used to separate fresh water from a salt solution and gasoline from petroleum.♦ The condensed vapor, which is the purified liquid, is called the distillate.

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

Cultural definitions for distillation


In chemistry, the separating of the constituents of a liquid by boiling it and then condensing the vapor that results. Distillation can be used to purify water or other substances, or to remove one component from a complex mixture, as when gasoline is distilled from crude oil or alcohol from a mash. When water is purified by distillation, it is boiled in a container, and the steam is sent into cooling tubes. The steam is condensed and then collected as purified water in a second container. The impurities in the water are left behind in the first container and can be discarded.

Notes for distillation

Figuratively, “distillation” is the process of retaining the essential features or components of something while removing nonessentials: “This book represents knowledge distilled from decades of research.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.