Definition of gutta-percha in English:



  • A hard, tough thermoplastic substance that is the coagulated latex of certain Malaysian trees. It consists chiefly of a hydrocarbon isomeric with rubber and is now used chiefly in dentistry and for electrical insulation.

    • ‘We also have gutta-percha, sago, rattan, and ketchup.’
    • ‘Undaunted by the loss of hundreds of miles of wire wrapped in gutta-percha, canvas and tar, his company tried for a fourth time in 1866, constructing a further 1800 miles of cable.’
    • ‘Dr. Lowell's initial attempt at the golf tee was made of gutta-percha, a material used to make false teeth and golf balls in the 19th century.’
    • ‘Lightweight wire, collapsible steel, whalebone, horsehair, and inflatable gutta-percha were used at various times to create or strengthen bustles.’
    • ‘We have Vernetta Lopez and all the other Eurasians on telly and radio, and we have the de Souzas and the D'Almeidas, who made their fortune harvesting gutta-percha which was used to insulate telegraph wires.’


Mid 19th century: from Malay getah perca, from getah gum + perca strips of cloth (which it resembles), altered by association with obsolete gutta gum from Latin gutta a drop.