Definition of ambergris in US English:



  • A waxy substance that originates as a secretion in the intestines of the sperm whale, found floating in tropical seas and used in perfume manufacture.

    • ‘In the oily water round it we find ambergris and other fine and wonderful things.’
    • ‘He excavates the skull, and finds six handfuls of ambergris.’
    • ‘Apparently the plastic is infused with ambergris.’
    • ‘It was probably a fatal piece of ambergris that caused his death.’
    • ‘So, I got some sea salt, put it in a dish of blue glass, and anointed the dish with ambergris.’


Late Middle English: from Old French ambre gris ‘gray amber’, as distinct from amber jaune ‘yellow amber’ (the resin).