• synonyms


  1. Also tal·cum [tal-kuh m] /ˈtæl kəm/. a green-to-gray, soft mineral, hydrous magnesium silicate, Mg3(Si4O10)(OH)2, unctuous to the touch, and occurring usually in foliated or compact masses, used in making lubricants, talcum powder, electrical insulation, etc.
  2. talcum powder.
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verb (used with object), talcked or talced [talkt] /tælkt/, talck·ing or talc·ing [tal-king] /ˈtæl kɪŋ/.
  1. to treat or rub with talc.
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Origin of talc

1595–1605; < Medieval Latin talcum < Arabic ṭalq mica < Persian talk
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for talcum

Historical Examples of talcum

  • Ordinary starch, or talcum, or the stearate of zinc is suitable.

    The Eugenic Marriage, Vol 2 (of 4)

    W. Grant Hague

  • Now wipe off all surplus cream and dust them with talcum powder.

  • She gave an animated recommendation of powders from talcum to insect.

    The Comings of Cousin Ann

    Emma Speed Sampson

  • She isn't going to talcum powder the baby with pepper, is she?

  • The Duchess is going to talcum powder the baby now—it's just had a bath.

British Dictionary definitions for talcum


noun Also: talcum
  1. See talcum powder
  2. a white, grey, brown, or pale green mineral, found in metamorphic rocks. It is used in the manufacture of talcum powder and electrical insulators. Composition: hydrated magnesium silicate. Formula: Mg 3 Si 4 O 10 (OH) 2 . Crystal structure: monoclinic
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verb talcs, talcking, talcked, talcs, talcing or talced
  1. (tr) to apply talc to
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Derived Formstalcose or talcous, adjective

Word Origin for talc

C16: from Medieval Latin talcum, from Arabic talq mica, from Persian talk
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 talcum


1550s, from Medieval Latin talcum, used for any of various shiny minerals. See talc.

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1580s, from Middle French talc, probably from Spanish talco and Medieval Latin talcum "talc" (ealy 14c.), both from Arabic talq, from Persian talk "talc." "It was applied by the Arab and medieval writers to various transparent, translucent and shining minerals such as talc proper, mica, selenite, etc." [Flood].

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

talcum in Medicine


  1. talc
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  1. A fine-grained white, greenish, or gray mineral, having a soft soapy feel and used in talcum and face powder.talcum
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

talcum in Science


  1. A very soft white, greenish, or gray monoclinic mineral usually occurring as massive micalike flakes in igneous or metamorphic rocks. It has a soapy texture and is used in face powder and talcum powder, for coating paper, and as a filler in paints and plastics. Chemical formula: Mg3Si4O10(OH)2.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.