Definition of copal in English:



mass noun
  • Resin from any of a number of tropical trees, used to make varnish.

    • ‘Her breath reeked of scalded sugar, copal, and agave.’
    • ‘In one culture a shaman uses tobacco, sage or cannabis, in others copal, frankincense, sandalwood, cedar, juniper or pine.’
    • ‘If the resin has hardened in recent times, it is called copal.’
    • ‘This meant that forest economies, including the trade in wild rubber, copal, wax, ivory, and timber, were effectively circumscribed.’
    • ‘The book begins by defining amber and differentiating it from copal or more recent and, as yet, undistilled resin.’


Late 16th century: via Spanish from Nahuatl copalli ‘incense’.