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shellac

or shel·lack

[shuh-lak]
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noun
  1. lac that has been purified and formed into thin sheets, used for making varnish.
  2. a varnish (shellac varnish) made by dissolving this material in alcohol or a similar solvent.
  3. a phonograph record made of a breakable material containing shellac, especially one to be played at 78 r.p.m.: an LP that can hold nearly 10 times as much as the old shellac.
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verb (used with object), shel·lacked, shel·lack·ing.
  1. to coat or treat with shellac.
  2. Slang.
    1. to defeat; trounce.
    2. to thrash soundly.
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Origin of shellac

1705–15; shell + lac1, translation of French laque en écailles lac in thin plates
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for shellac

Historical Examples

  • A sine qua non is that the glass be hot enough to melt the shellac.

    On Laboratory Arts

    Richard Threlfall

  • The cement consists of a mixture of shellac and 10 per cent of oil of cassia.

    On Laboratory Arts

    Richard Threlfall

  • On no account must the shellac be allowed to get overheated.

    On Laboratory Arts

    Richard Threlfall

  • It is then coated with shellac by heating and rubbing upon the shellac.

    On Laboratory Arts

    Richard Threlfall

  • Shellac is the most common and the most useful of the spirit varnishes.

    Handwork in Wood

    William Noyes


British Dictionary definitions for shellac

shellac

noun
  1. a yellowish resin secreted by the lac insect, esp a commercial preparation of this used in varnishes, polishes, and leather dressings
  2. Also called: shellac varnish a varnish made by dissolving shellac in ethanol or a similar solvent
  3. a gramophone record based on shellac
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verb -lacs, -lacking or -lacked (tr)
  1. to coat or treat (an article) with a shellac varnish
  2. US slang to defeat completely
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Derived Formsshellacker, noun

Word Origin

C18: shell + lac 1, translation of French laque en écailles, literally: lac in scales, that is, in thin plates
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 shellac

n.

1713, from shell (n.) + lac (see lacquer). Translates French laque en écailles "lac in thin plates."

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v.

1876, from shellack (n.). The slang sense of "beat soundly" is 1920s, perhaps from the notion of shellac as a "finish." Shellacked "drunk" is from 1922 (cf. plastered). Related: Shellacking.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper