See under varnish(def 1).
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Origin of spirit varnish
First recorded in 1840–50
Words nearby spirit varnish
Definition for spirit varnish (2 of 2)
[ vahr-nish ]
/ ˈvɑr nɪʃ /
a preparation consisting of resinous matter, as copal or lac, dissolved in an oil (oil varnish) or in alcohol (spirit varnish) or other volatile liquid. When applied to the surface of wood, metal, etc., it dries and leaves a hard, more or less glossy, usually transparent coating.
the sap of certain trees, used for the same purpose (natural varnish).
any of various other preparations similarly used, as one having India rubber, pyroxylin, or asphalt as its chief constituent.
a coating or surface of varnish.
something resembling or suggesting a coat of varnish; gloss.
superficial polish or external show, especially to conceal some defect or inadequacy: The play has a varnish of witty dialogue.
British. nail polish.
verb (used with object)
to apply varnish to; coat or cover with varnish.
to give a glossy appearance to.
to give an improved appearance to; adorn.
to give a superficially pleasing appearance to, especially in order to deceive: to varnish the truth.
Origin of varnish
1300–50; Middle English varnisch < Middle French vernis, verniz < Medieval Latin vernicium sandarac < Medieval Greek bernī́kē, syncopated variant of Greek Berenī́kē, city in Cyrenaica
OTHER WORDS FROM varnishvar·nish·er, nounvar·nish·y, adjectivere·var·nish, verb (used with object)well-var·nished, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020
Example sentences from the Web for spirit varnish
This method of oil-finish, too, is scarcely inferior to the shellac or spirit-varnish method, and it is cheaper.French Polishing and Enamelling|Richard Bitmead
British Dictionary definitions for spirit varnish (1 of 2)
a varnish consisting of a gum or resin, such as shellac or copal, dissolved in alcohol
British Dictionary definitions for spirit varnish (2 of 2)
/ (ˈvɑːnɪʃ) /
Also called: oil varnish a preparation consisting of a solvent, a drying oil, and usually resin, rubber, bitumen, etc, for application to a surface where it polymerizes to yield a hard glossy, usually transparent, coating
a similar preparation consisting of a substance, such as shellac or cellulose ester, dissolved in a volatile solvent, such as alcohol. It hardens to a film on evaporation of the solventSee also spirit varnish
Also called: natural varnish the sap of certain trees used to produce such a coating
a smooth surface, coated with or as with varnish
an artificial, superficial, or deceptively pleasing manner, covering, etc; veneer
mainly British another word for nail polish
to cover with varnish
to give a smooth surface to, as if by painting with varnish
to impart a more attractive appearance to
to make superficially attractive
Derived forms of varnishvarnisher, noun
Word Origin for varnish
C14: from Old French vernis, from Medieval Latin veronix sandarac, resin, from Medieval Greek berenikē, perhaps from Greek Berenikē, city in Cyrenaica, Libya where varnishes were used
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