One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
An oily liquid which is the main constituent of Japanese lacquer and is responsible for the irritant properties of poison ivy and other plants. It consists of a mixture of catechol derivatives.
- ‘For people who are sensitive to urushiol, the toxic compound found in the plants, the slightest contact can result in a painful itching rash.’
- ‘These products often lay a polymer film on the skin that prevents urushiol from permeating to the dermal layer and, in so doing, function as a barrier.’
- ‘Poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac all contain the same allergic irritant: urushiol.’
- ‘All parts of the poison ivy plant produce the oily irritating agent, urushiol.’
- ‘If you're lucky enough to learn of your child's contact with poison ivy within five to ten minutes, then there's a chance that you can wash off the urushiol oil, which causes the reaction.’
- ‘Unfortunately, the study also found that carbon dioxide-enhanced poison ivy boasts a stronger strain of urushiol, which may prove even more poisonous to humans.’
Early 20th century: from Japanese urushi ‘Japanese lacquer’ + -ol.
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