Definition of bitumen in English:



  • 1[mass noun] A black viscous mixture of hydrocarbons obtained naturally or as a residue from petroleum distillation. It is used for road surfacing and roofing.

    • ‘There are three different application techniques for modified bitumen: torching, hot-mopping and cold-applied.’
    • ‘It belongs to the same family of substances as asphalt or bitumen.’
    • ‘One relatively recent roofing improvement is the development of self-adhered modified bitumen and other self-adhered membrane roofing products.’
    • ‘It might turn out that there is enough flat roof at the top of your flat to pour thousands of pounds worth of bitumen, asphalt and lead onto.’
    • ‘Thus, the presence of bitumen in correlative parts of the sections is presumably due to the ability of similar shale lithologies to trap and hold bitumen as hydrocarbons migrate through the basin.’
    • ‘Supposedly, roads laid with a mixture of recycled plastic and bitumen were more durable because of the water-resistant characteristic of plastic.’
    • ‘Corporation officials say that delay in sanctioning funds and the unavailability of bitumen had held up tarring for over eight months.’
    • ‘Ma'dan have few possessions, typically just a few water buffalo, a gun, some blankets and cooking utensils, and a reed canoe coated with bitumen (tar).’
    • ‘The crude petroleum is heat-extracted from a mixture of bitumen, sand, water, and clay in an open-pit mining operation.’
    • ‘Unlike the bitumen used in builtup systems, the bitumen in modified bitumen systems is modified with polymers in order to increase the elasticity and strength of the finished roof.’
    • ‘The overflow car park will not be lit and it will be surfaced with reinforced grass rather than bitumen while 160 parking spaces to the north of the clubhouse have been moved to protect the privacy of Knotty Ash Farm.’
    • ‘The nerve shattering noise was from a petrol driven concrete and bitumen cutting saw so loud that all workers were wearing ear muffs.’
    • ‘The extraction process begins here, where solvent and water begin to separate bitumen from sand and clay.’
    • ‘One of the largest integrated petroleum companies in Canada, the company is a major producer of natural gas, natural gas liquids and bitumen, and the country's largest producer of sulphur.’
    • ‘One of the curiosities of the Ironbridge Gorge was a spring of natural bitumen discovered in 1786.’
    • ‘If the material is accidentally punctured, it can be repaired quickly using mylar tape and bitumen.’
    • ‘Another method employed the substance called collyrium; this is a preparation of pitch, bitumen, pounded glass, wax, and mastic.’
    • ‘Unlike the flowing reserves that are pumped out of Dallas, oil sands are actually deposits of bitumen - a tar-like mixture of petroleum hydrocarbons that are attached to sand.’
    • ‘When used as the top layer, they are frequently factory surfaced with granules or bitumen, eliminating the need for field surfacing later on.’
    • ‘At ambient temperature, bitumen is a highly viscous to almost solid substance that is extremely difficult to work with.’
    bitumen, asphalt, tar
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Australian informal A tarred road surface.
      ‘a kilometre and a half of bitumen’
      • ‘The road becomes a strip of bitumen flanked at first by banana trees, then by an array of she-oaks.’
      • ‘The skate set-up included a metal three piece mini, gnarly street section of bitumen and wooden ramps and the mass indoor park course, which was gold.’
      • ‘There are thousands of outback journeys in Australia - on bitumen and dirt, across deserts and mountains, along the coast and inland, long and short, tough and easy.’
      • ‘Likewise, Augie March, Archie Roach and Rubie Hunter ride the burning bitumen in Buddy Miller style searching for the Minister of Planets somewhere off the Newell.’
      • ‘Riders were hoping for a fast ride on bitumen for the last leg of the trip to Marlo, then back to Orbost, but a howling head wind and light rain changed those plans.’
      • ‘Most of us live in stone houses and aspire to live in converted stone barns, we walk on stone pavements and often drive on roads where beneath the black bitumen lie beautifully dressed stone setts.’
      • ‘Behind the wall's remains she could see the streets, littered with the burnt-out husks of cars and buses, many of which lay on their sides on the broken bitumen.’
      • ‘The Research Station, established in 1957, has four laboratories, which deal with soils and foundation engineering, concrete and structures, bitumen and traffic.’
      • ‘These roots burrow through bitumen as if it were butter, and often the trees have to be expensively removed before they completely ruin the driveway.’
      • ‘The playground would not affect the streetscape as ‘we would rip up bitumen and put down turf and shrubs.’’
      • ‘The grandstands, which ring the southern and western sides of the arena, are old fashioned red brick, with crumbling black bitumen leading to the fence line.’
      • ‘Friday morning's ride was sedate after the thrills of the previous day starting with a relaxed ride on bitumen from Combienbar to Club terrace and a stop at the local hall for tea and cakes.’
      • ‘Kids catapult along bitumen like suckers for punishment.’
      • ‘A dusty street would have been ideal, but bitumen was acceptable.’
      • ‘Once out of the prelude stage in Alice the ride avoided any bitumen and wound its way through Arltunga, across the Plenty, deep into north Queensland before arriving at Karanda and the downhill drop into Cairns.’
      • ‘That's in the dry season: In the wet roads are flooded from door to door, so pavement, verge, drain and bitumen merge into a seamless black scum where floating objects best remain unscrutinised.’
      • ‘Parramatta residents were treated to the thud of 600 boots on bitumen, the purr of diesels from six tracked armoured personnel carriers, the drone of engines of two RAAF.’
      • ‘It is a seriously windy and interesting piece of bitumen.’
      • ‘An exception is where scrap rubber is incorporated using high percentages in bitumen as scrap rubber reduces road-tyre noise.’
      • ‘Pamela Brown said as she and her partner drove south on the Stuart Highway, a big white vehicle had pulled from the side of the road onto the bitumen, heading north.’


Late Middle English (denoting naturally occurring asphalt used as mortar): from Latin.