or lack·er



a protective coating consisting of a resin, cellulose ester, or both, dissolved in a volatile solvent, sometimes with pigment added.
any of various resinous varnishes, especially a resinous varnish obtained from a Japanese tree, Rhus verniciflua, used to produce a highly polished, lustrous surface on wood or the like.
Also called lacquer ware, lac·quer·ware. ware, especially of wood, coated with such a varnish, and often inlaid: They collected fine Japanese lacquers.
Slang. any volatile solvent that produces euphoria when inhaled.

verb (used with object)

to coat with lacquer.
to cover, as with facile or fluent words or explanations cleverly worded, etc.; obscure the faults of; gloss (often followed by over): The speech tended to lacquer over the terrible conditions.

Origin of lacquer

1570–80; earlier leckar, laker < Portuguese lacre, lacar, unexplained variant of laca < Arabic lakk < Persian lâk lac1
Related formslac·quer·er, nounre·lac·quer, verb (used with object)un·lac·quered, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for lacquer

varnish, glaze, layer, covering, finish, veneer, lamination

Examples from the Web for lacquer

Contemporary Examples of lacquer

Historical Examples of lacquer

  • Will there be one morsel of honest flesh, when all the lacquer of paint is washed off?

    A Day's Ride

    Charles James Lever

  • Do you know that he has the one collection of Japanese lacquer in Europe?

    The Napoleon of Notting Hill

    Gilbert K. Chesterton

  • The walls are all covered with the finest paintings in gold and lacquer.

    From Pole to Pole

    Sven Anders Hedin

  • The dressing table and the chaise-longue are of Chinese lacquer.

    The Merry-Go-Round

    Carl Van Vechten

  • The lacquer is drawn from its milky sap and mixed with the oil of the bignonia.

    In the Eastern Seas

    W.H.G. Kingston

British Dictionary definitions for lacquer



a hard glossy coating made by dissolving cellulose derivatives or natural resins in a volatile solvent
a black resinous substance, obtained from certain trees, used to give a hard glossy finish to wooden furniture
lacquer tree Also called: varnish tree an E Asian anacardiaceous tree, Rhus verniciflua, whose stem yields a toxic exudation from which black lacquer is obtained
Also called: hair lacquer a mixture of shellac and alcohol for spraying onto the hair to hold a style in place
art decorative objects coated with such lacquer, often inlaid


(tr) to apply lacquer to
Derived Formslacquerer, noun

Word Origin for lacquer

C16: from obsolete French lacre sealing wax, from Portuguese laca lac 1
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 lacquer

1570s as "dye obtained from lac;" 1670s as "lacquer," from obsolete French lacre, name for a kind of sealing wax, from Portuguese lacre, unexplained variant of lacca "resinous substance," from Arabic lakk, from Persian lak (see lac).


"cover or coat with laqueur," 1680s, from lacquer (n.). Related: Lacquered; lacquering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper