Definition of enamel in US English:


nounPlural enamels

  • 1An opaque or semitransparent glassy substance applied to metallic or other hard surfaces for ornament or as a protective coating.

    • ‘Prepare in non-metallic containers such as glass, earthenware or enamel pots.’
    • ‘Comparable plaques painted in enamels on copper are scarce.’
    • ‘Black enamel mixed with diamanté in art deco chandelier styles will look good with the op art inspired prints.’
    • ‘She makes us thick, sweet, black tea in cracked enamel mugs.’
    • ‘The earliest samples of enamel using glass can be traced to before 2,500 B.C. to the Sumerian and Egyptian civilisations.’
    • ‘He is turning the taps now and the water spills into the enamel basin.’
    • ‘In its original sense enamel is glass or vitreous paste fused to a prepared surface, usually of metal, by means of intense heat.’
    • ‘Ting has used a range of materials including English bone china, glass, enamel and platinum.’
    • ‘A baked synthetic resin enamel finish is applied to one or both sides over a chemical conversion coating.’
    • ‘Creamy appliance wax can be used on painted surfaces for protection and ease of cleaning, but is not needed on porcelain enamel surfaces.’
    • ‘There's also a mix of natural wood and white porcelain, steel and glass, and the latest brightly coloured lacquer or enamel finishes.’
    • ‘He had covered the falcon with black enamel to keep its value hidden.’
    • ‘The artists use acrylic enamel, which dries fast when heat is applied.’
    • ‘I held out the gun for him to take, its sleek black enamel glinting dully in the fluorescent light.’
    • ‘The enamel finish of the oddly crafted table also reveals the touch of a painter's hand.’
    • ‘The translucent enamel back ground which looks almost black is in fact a dark burgundy.’
    • ‘The enamel finish is available in an array of colors to accent any kitchen.’
    • ‘Bright impervious surfaces in plaster, white paint, vitreous enamel, glass or stainless steel are not just cleanable but seen to be clean.’
    • ‘In the 19th century, all known translucent coloured enamels have a high lead content.’
    • ‘Many of their 21st century residents still have to empty enamel chamber pots in public toilets every morning.’
    1. 1.1 A work of art executed in enamel.
      • ‘Everything from jades to paintings; bronzes and lacquer; porcelain, glass and enamel; wood, pottery, textiles and costumes.’
      • ‘The enamel of Marguerite de France is signed by Jean de Court on the reverse and dated 1555.’
      • ‘A panel painting might have a background of stamped, gilded gesso and enamels and precious stones in its frame.’
      • ‘Currently, she creates enamels and prints in her own studio.’
      • ‘Under his direction, wares in the style of the French renaissance Limoges enamels were executed.’
      • ‘Venetian ceramics, textiles, sculpture, enamels and glass will also be on view.’
      • ‘How has 81-year-old Subramanyan's art practice often defined the cutting edge within the contemporary Indian idiom, ranging from murals to reverse paintings, from enamels to sculpture?’
      • ‘Her double-height central hall was dressed with trophies of arms, and two wall cases containing Venetian glass and Limoges enamels were flanked by maiolica ceramics mounted on the wall.’
      • ‘A much more successful translation onto porcelain of the composition on the screens is found on the circular food box decorated in famille verte enamels shown in Plates Villa and VIIIb.’
      • ‘The museum displays 200 paintings and 50 sculptures, as well as porcelain, enamels, ivories, arms, tapestries and furniture.’
      • ‘She is probably best known for mixed-medium reliefs that include colored enamels or wax, but her mediums have ranged from photography to craft-store findings.’
      • ‘Among the 150 objects included are sculpture, panel paintings, illuminated manuscripts, textiles, gold and silver works, jewelry, enamels and ivories.’
      • ‘The displayed assemblage of silver, silver-gilt, enamels and jewels looked fabulous at the view, and drew unexpected crowds - and prices.’
      • ‘The exhibition consists of jewelry, carved gemstones, inlaid hardstones, enamels and objects made from precious metals.’
      • ‘Her sculptural designs incorporate softly rounded shapes and matt enamels with gentle tonal variations that possess a subtle simplicity.’
      • ‘Japanese bronzes, enamels, and ceramics of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries inspired new vase shapes for European ceramicists including Doat.’
      • ‘In addition, the museum features important collections of porcelain, enamels, ivories, arms, tapestries and furniture.’
      • ‘She suggests that the inscriptions on these enamels identify a workshop, rather than individual enamellers, and that the Wallace Collection enamel might have been made there.’
      • ‘The plaque illustrated here may show the influence of Liomges enamels, demonstrating Rodin's interest in renaissance art.’
      • ‘Like the majority of 16 th-century translucent coloured enamels, those in the portrait of Marguerite de France as Minerva have a low lead content.’
    2. 1.2 The hard glossy substance that covers the crown of a tooth.
      • ‘Bacteria in dental plaque produce acid, which dissolve the minerals in the tooth enamel causing initial lesions and dental caries.’
      • ‘Tooth enamel, the hardest substance in our bodies, provides a durable coating for the softer dentin underneath.’
      • ‘The outer layer of enamel is an extremely hard, highly mineralized, crystalline structure that covers and protects the crown of the tooth.’
      • ‘And as a result they believe they will be able to develop new treatments to repair damaged tooth enamel and replace lost minerals.’
      • ‘High levels of cotinine, a byproduct of nicotine found in smoke, erode tooth enamel.’
      • ‘Dental decay is when bacteria in the mouth break down the enamel of a tooth.’
      • ‘Fluoride can considerably benefit dental health by strengthening the tooth enamel, making it more resistant to acid attacks that can cause tooth decay.’
      • ‘It increases the fluoride content of the enamel of newly erupted teeth, thereby increasing the resistance of these teeth to caries.’
      • ‘The bacteria digest the carbohydrates in the food and produce acid, which dissolves the tooth's enamel and causes a cavity.’
      • ‘Children born prematurely are likely to have enamel defects in both primary and permanent teeth.’
      • ‘Certain diets such as those rich in hard fruits or grasses leave tiny distinctive damage patterns on enamel surfaces.’
      • ‘The highly acidic nature of this drink also increases the risk of erosion of dental enamel.’
      • ‘Most of these features can be seen in the image of the developing dental enamel in the frog, Rana.’
      • ‘Dental caries occur when bacteria destroy the enamel surface of the tooth and cause decay.’
      • ‘Human teeth are made up of four different types of tissue: pulp, dentin, enamel, and cementum.’
      • ‘Drinking green tea actually makes tooth enamel tougher and more resistant to corrosive acid foods, and there is evidence that it reduces liver damage.’
      • ‘Teeth form mainly from neuroectoderm and comprise a crown of insensitive enamel surrounding sensitive dentine and a root that has no enamel covering.’
      • ‘Bacteria in plaque around teeth metabolize sugars rapidly, creating local areas of high acidity which erode tooth enamel.’
      • ‘There are two parts to a tooth: the crown, which is covered by enamel and is the visible part of the tooth, and the root, which lies underneath the gums.’
      • ‘Choose a supplement made without sugar and avoid chewable forms, as these can erode tooth enamel.’
      • ‘Although fluoride helps to strengthen the enamel, tooth decay from sugar still occurs.’
    3. 1.3 A paint that dries to give a smooth, hard coat.
      • ‘Paint each plate rail with primer and two coats of white enamel.’
      • ‘Remove wallpaper and install tile, or paint walls with mold-resistant enamel paint.’
      • ‘Sand, prime, and paint the chair using two or more coats of semigloss latex enamel paint.’
      • ‘Instead of ink, Woods made all the prints with two fat layers of near-primary-colored gloss enamel paint, an idiosyncratic printing process that contributed to the show's impact.’
      • ‘To create his paintings, he stencils wide bands and squares of colorful enamel paint over bright acrylic grounds.’
      • ‘Delicate little layers of enamel paint covered an oval of wood about the size of a biscuit.’
      • ‘For the early experiments in the series reported here a latex enamel paint solution was used to colour the vessels.’
      • ‘Using a roller and black enamel paint, the stencil was applied 250 times on each of a hundred 48-inch-square canvases.’
      • ‘She started with a base coat, then applied one coat of silver enamel.’
      • ‘Prime, then paint with a base coat of enamel floor paint.’
      • ‘Evidence of her home-grown methods can be found in the alligatored texture of some of her pieces, where she may have layered enamel paint before the undercoat dried.’
      • ‘When possible, I marked wasps on the body with a dot of white enamel paint to allow for individual recognition.’
      • ‘I've just finished doing some painting with enamel paint and my room stinks of white spirit.’
      • ‘Prime the wall with a low luster latex enamel paint and allow it to dry completely before the next step.’
      • ‘Yet once the drawings are transferred to sheets of Mylar or aluminum panels, she carefully fills their contours with enamel paint.’
      • ‘Drawing, cutting with a jigsaw, mixing the enamel paint and painting the cutouts proved more difficult than the students had imagined.’
      • ‘Outside is a coating of sugar, latex enamel paint, and an insecticide such as imidacloprid.’
      • ‘If you prefer a painted finish, apply a paint primer, lightly sand with very fine sandpaper, and apply two or more coats of trim enamel.’
      • ‘She painted the oven doors periwinkle blue then touched up knobs and dials in a bright orange enamel paint.’
    4. 1.4dated Nail polish.
      • ‘Light pink nail enamel will make the hands even more charming.’
      • ‘The cell suspension was put into it and the open edges were completely sealed with nail enamel.’
      • ‘The colour selected for nail enamel should usually accord to the colour of your lipstick or attire.’
      lacquer, lac, shellac, japan, enamel, glaze, polish, oil, resin, wax
      View synonyms

verbenamelled, enamels, enamelling, enameling, enameled

[with object]often as adjective enameled
  • 1Coat or decorate (a metallic or hard object) with enamel.

    ‘an enameled roasting pan’
    • ‘In 1961 a large 750 kw porcelain enamelling furnace and plant were installed - amongst the first in New Zealand.’
    • ‘The egg is enamelled in cobalt blue on a shell of guilloche (elaborately patterned) sterling silver.’
    • ‘The scabbard was decorated with patterns much similar to that of the hilt, and was enameled in a smooth glaze.’
    • ‘These are ground to powder and applied on the object to be enamelled.’
    • ‘The crown is heavily enameled anteriorly, and the apex is broad and smoothly rounded.’
    • ‘Armoury was also enamelled in the Deccani style.’
    • ‘The buyer bought the diamond and blue enamelled brooch, in the shape of a key, as a surprise Christmas present for his wife.’
    • ‘Ordinary steel is a fairly good conductor of heat, and enamelled steel pans will cook evenly if the base is thick.’
    • ‘Templar links to the local area have been found at the Old Church in Maghera where a bronze enamelled plaque was found in the graveyard.’
    • ‘Drop them into a stainless steel or enamelled cast-iron pan and add the sugar and water.’
    • ‘It's as tiny as a butter bean and individuals appear to have been exquisitely enamelled by different artists.’
    • ‘Hot and cold running water leads to a newly enameled green tub set on a thick stone slab.’
    • ‘Egyptian pharaohs wore enameled jewelry, and the process was used to decorate metallic objects with color throughout the Middle Ages and Renaissance in Western Europe.’
    • ‘My teeth have always been creamy, so they need to be enamelled, but other than that I'm in good shape.’
    • ‘The frame is studded with eight table-cut diamonds, and the back is enamelled with a black trophy of arms.’
    • ‘His iron spear was enamelled, most unusually, in a Celtic style, and he was buried with a hanging bowl also in Celtic style.’
    • ‘The copper bottle with the design of a European lady on each side is a masterpiece of Chinese enamelled art.’
    • ‘With no porcelain blanks to decorate, enameling in Canton was also interrupted for roughly a decade.’
    • ‘Mothers or older sisters will love the pretty enamelled jewellery from Les Nereides.’
    • ‘I make enamelled jewellery and run the shop from which it is sold.’
    varnish, lacquer, veneer, coat, stain, wax, shellac, put a finish on, glaze, give a shine to, gloss, polish, burnish, smooth off
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1dated Apply nail polish to (fingernails or toenails).
      • ‘Nor, as he had before thankfully observed, did her ladyship enamel her nails to the likeness of blood-stained talons.’
      • ‘Women no longer tried to look boyish, but emphasized their difference from men by using cosmetics and enamelling their nails.’
      • ‘She had enamelled her toenails silver to match her fingernails.’
      • ‘She'd asked her mother if she could enamel her nails too but she'd said to wait until she was older.’


Late Middle English (originally as a verb; formerly also as inamel): from Anglo-Norman French enamailler, from en- ‘in, on’ + amail ‘enamel’, ultimately of Germanic origin.