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sperm oil,liquid wax obtained from the sperm whale, or cachalot, and related marine mammals. It flows readily, is clear, and varies in color from pale yellow to brownish yellow. Chemically it is not a true oil. It is secured from the blubber and from a huge cavity in the whale's head (this oil cavity helps the whale keep part of his head above water for breathing). A solid wax, spermacetispermaceti
, solid waxy substance, white, odorless, and tasteless, separated from the oils obtained from the sperm whale (see sperm oil) and other marine mammals. A mixture of esters of fatty acids, it is composed chiefly of cetyl palmitate.
..... Click the link for more information. , is extracted from the oil by filtration and treatment with potassium hydroxide. The oil is an excellent lubricant, especially for watches and other delicate instruments, and is used as a dressing for leather, to protect plants from insects, in tempering steel, and in making soap.
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sperm oil[′spərm ‚ȯil]
A combustible, yellowish oil found in the head cavities and blubber of the sperm whale; soluble in ether, chloroform, and benzene; used as a lubricant for precision machinery, for rustproofing metals, and in transmission fluids.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
an oil obtained from the head of the sperm whale, used as a lubricant
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005