[naf-thuh, nap-]


a colorless, volatile petroleum distillate, usually an intermediate product between gasoline and benzine, used as a solvent, fuel, etc.Compare mineral spirits.
any of various similar liquids distilled from other products.

Origin of naphtha

1565–75; < Latin < Greek náphthas, perhaps < Iranian *nafta, derivative of *nab- to be damp; compare Avestan napta- damp, Persian naft naphtha
Related formsnaph·thous, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for naphtha

gasoline, gas, fuel, petrol, kerosene

Examples from the Web for naphtha

Historical Examples of naphtha

  • Another of the most important groups of Russian industries is that of naphtha.

    England and Germany

    Emile Joseph Dillon

  • Chloroform, benzene, and naphtha are used on ordinary silks and linens.


    William H. Dooley

  • For what are aniline, paraffine, naphtha, and carbolic acid used?

    Commercial Geography

    Jacques W. Redway

  • About four, he asked for naphtha, but the last syllable died on his tongue.

  • The place reeks of naphtha, human flesh, bad language, and good-nature.

    Nights in London

    Thomas Burke

British Dictionary definitions for naphtha



a distillation product from coal tar boiling in the approximate range 80–170°C and containing aromatic hydrocarbons
a distillation product from petroleum boiling in the approximate range 100–200°C and containing aliphatic hydrocarbons: used as a solvent and in petrol
an obsolete name for petroleum

Word Origin for naphtha

C16: via Latin from Greek, of Iranian origin; related to Persian neft naphtha
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 naphtha

inflammable liquid distilled from petroleum, 1570s, from Latin, from Greek naphtha "bitumen," perhaps from Persian neft "pitch," or Aramaic naphta, nephta, but these could as well be from Greek. In Middle English as napte (late 14c.), from Old French napte, but the modern word is a re-introduction.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

naphtha in Medicine


[năfthə, năp-]


Any of several highly volatile, flammable liquid mixtures of hydrocarbons distilled from petroleum, coal tar, or natural gas and used as solvents and in making various chemicals.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

naphtha in Science



Any of several liquid mixtures of hydrocarbons made by refining petroleum or by breaking down coal tar. Naphtha is usually flammable, and is used as a solvent and as an ingredient in gasoline. It is also used to make plastics.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.