• synonyms


[pe-truh-ley-tuh m, -lah-]
  1. a yellowish or whitish, translucent, gelatinous, oily, semisolid, amorphous mass obtained from petroleum: used as a lubricant, rust preventive, in the manufacture of cosmetics, and in medicine as a protective dressing, emollient, and ointment base.
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Origin of petrolatum

1885–90, Americanism; < New Latin; see petroleum, -ate2
Also called petroleum jelly.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for petrolatum

Historical Examples of petrolatum

  • He is aware of the fact that petrolatum is not a fat in the true sense of the word.

    Candy Medication

    Bernard Fantus

  • The absorbing medium is then treated with a solvent of the caffeol, and the solution is separated from the petrolatum.

    All About Coffee

    William H. Ukers

  • See that solids are thoroughly pulverized and sifted, then add and thoroughly incorporate oil and petrolatum.

  • Melt the petrolatum and add the tincture of cantharides, and while cooling add the other ingredients.

  • Melt the petrolatum and wax together and add the tannin while cooling; add the oils and stir until cold.

British Dictionary definitions for petrolatum


  1. a translucent gelatinous substance obtained from petroleum; used as a lubricant and in medicine as an ointment base and protective dressingAlso called: mineral jelly, petroleum jelly
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Word Origin for petrolatum

C19: from petrol + Latin -atum -ate 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

petrolatum in Medicine


  1. petroleum jelly
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.