Definition of turpentine in English:



  • 1mass noun A volatile pungent oil distilled from gum turpentine or pine wood, used in mixing paints and varnishes and in liniment.

    • ‘They are, however, susceptible to shrinkage from exposure to solvents containing naphtha or turpentine.’
    • ‘When the floor is entirely dry, it is sealed, most commonly with successive applications of linseed oil and turpentine.’
    • ‘They'll sniff, claw, sample or rub aromatic wood - such as cedar or pine - and petroleum products - such as tarpaper, paint, turpentine, kerosene and charcoal lighting fluid.’
    • ‘The paintings have the appearance of palimpsests, with rubbed-out passages, and residues of paint and turpentine streaming down the canvas.’
    • ‘The scent of turpentine and oil paint drifts through his open window from his neighbor's house.’
    • ‘To perform this experiment a little oil of turpentine was placed at the bottom of a glass tube surrounded with boiling liquid air.’
    • ‘His emphysema prevents him from using conventional oil paints, which require turpentine and thinners, so he uses a modern, water-based alternative.’
    • ‘At times I crave the intoxicating fragrance of linseed oil and turpentine, the sound of the brush on the canvas.’
    • ‘Son of an artist, Ward was raised with the smell of oil paints and turpentine and spent much of his childhood going in the back doors of museums and galleries.’
    • ‘It is made with a series of stencils cut out of paper soaked in linseed oil, turpentine and hand-coloured.’
    • ‘Many spots will disappear if rubbed with a solution made of equal parts of boiled linseed oil, turpentine and vinegar, or with a cleaning-polishing wax.’
    • ‘When drilling in glass, always use oil of turpentine with a little camphor to lubricate the wire-drill.’
    • ‘To make this, mix equal quantities of linseed oil, white spirit or turpentine, and vinegar in a bottle and shake well.’
    • ‘Store all flammables (ie. Gas, turpentine, paints, propane, etc.) in an outdoor shed.’
    • ‘For example, toxic wastes like paint, turpentine, and other household products can be collected and redistributed at community exchanges instead of being dumped.’
    • ‘The privately-owned firm manufactures and packages an array of products including white spirit, methylated spirit, turpentine and creosote.’
    • ‘There is a striking difference between the smells of limonene's two isomers: (+) limonene has a fresh orange smell whereas (-) limonene smells more like turpentine.’
    • ‘Keeping with traditional methods, Hansen uses a boiled mixture of turpentine and pine tar to protect the unfinished wood.’
    • ‘They contains a wood preservative, a small amount of wax as a water repellent, a resin or drying oil, and a solvent such as turpentine or mineral spirits.’
    • ‘It was created by adding a good deal of turpentine to the paint before it was applied as the final coat.’
    1. 1.1 An oleoresin secreted by certain trees, especially pines, and distilled to make rosin and oil of turpentine.
      • ‘Basically cleaning oiled wood requires you blend: 1 pint boiled linseed oil, 1 pint gum turpentine, and 6 oz. distilled white vinegar.’
      • ‘Using melted beeswax and gum turpentine, Green brings his paint to a buttery consistency and applies it with a squeegee.’
  • 2Any of a number of trees which yield turpentine or a similar resin.

    a coniferous tree of the pine family (Larix, Pinus, and other genera, family Pinaceae).

    the terebinth.

    • ‘Found in hot, dry places and translated under various names, the turpentine tree produces an oil resin with commercial value.’
    • ‘The area is famous for its turpentine trees, the sap of which is used in candy making, and the leaf in making tea.’


[with object]
  • Apply turpentine to.

    ‘antique turpentining equipment’
    • ‘These old sentinels have witnessed droughts, hurricanes, logging, turpentining, and development across the river.’


Middle English: from Old French ter(e)bentine, from Latin ter(e)binthina (resina) ‘(resin) of the turpentine tree’, from terebinthus (see terebinth).