• synonyms


  1. the milky juice, nearly white when pure, of various Malaysian trees of the sapodilla family, especially Palaquium gutta.
  2. the tough, rubberlike gum made from this and used as a dental cement, in the manufacture of golf balls, for insulating electric wires, etc.
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Origin of gutta-percha

1835–45; < Malay gətah (spelling getah) tree sap + perca rag, strip of cloth; perhaps so called from the appearance of the sap (Malay getah taban) in its marketed form
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for gutta-percha

Historical Examples

  • It was simply a copper wire coated with gutta-percha, without any other protection.

    Heroes of the Telegraph

    J. Munro

  • The old cable had but three coatings of gutta-percha, with nothing between.

  • But when he cut into it at home it tasted like sawdust and gutta-percha.


    Edna Ferber

  • In Borneo ten trees were felled for every kilogramme of gutta-percha.

    From Pole to Pole

    Sven Anders Hedin

  • I have suggested making a gutta-percha dummy to be the first arrival!

British Dictionary definitions for gutta-percha


  1. any of several tropical trees of the sapotaceous genera Palaquium and Payena, esp Palaquium gutta
  2. a whitish rubber substance derived from the coagulated milky latex of any of these trees: used in electrical insulation and dentistry
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Word Origin

C19: from Malay getah gum + percha name of a tree that produces it
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 gutta-percha


1845, from Malay getah percha, literally "the gum of percha," the name of the tree; the form of the word influenced by Latin gutta "drop." As the name of the tree itself, from 1860.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

gutta-percha in Medicine


  1. A rubbery substance from the latex of any of several tropical trees, used as a temporary filling material in dentistry and in the manufacture of orthopedic splints.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.