One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Resin from any of a number of tropical trees, used to make varnish.
The resin is obtained from trees in the families Leguminosae (genera Guibourtia, Copaifera, and Trachylobium) and Araucariaceae (genus Agathis)
- ‘This meant that forest economies, including the trade in wild rubber, copal, wax, ivory, and timber, were effectively circumscribed.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘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’.
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