Definition of lacquer in US English:



  • 1A liquid made of shellac dissolved in alcohol, or of synthetic substances, that dries to form a hard protective coating for wood, metal, etc.

    • ‘Finally, the blade was coated with a tough, protective layer of clear lacquer.’
    • ‘If the finish is lacquer, mineral spirits might work.’
    • ‘The newer synthetic lacquers are more durable, however older lacquered pieces and many imports have finishes affected by some solvents, so test every product first on an inconspicuous area.’
    • ‘Such natural bristle brushes are best suited for use with oil-base paints and stains, varnishes, lacquers and shellacs.’
    • ‘Polyester filaments work in most paints, stains, varnishes, shellacs and lacquers.’
    • ‘To finish his works, Gianakos applies a layer of protective lacquer that makes the wrinkles and variegations in tone permanent.’
    • ‘Do not apply urethane varnish over a coat of shellac or lacquer.’
    • ‘He seldom applied surface decoration other than subtly toned lacquers to protect the metal against tarnishing.’
    • ‘Putting a lacquer on the outside of a piece of timber and having zinc oxide nano particulates embedded in that lacquer makes that lacquer protective against ultra violet radiation.’
    • ‘Polyurethane has pretty much replaced varnish, shellac, and lacquer.’
    • ‘Polyester brushes should not be used with shellacs and lacquers.’
    • ‘They also painted the torpedo in anti-graffiti paint to hopefully deter any future negative social behaviour and coated the nose cone in a clear metal lacquer.’
    • ‘A primer is then applied to fill in any small holes, followed by a coat of paint and another layer of protective lacquer until the alloys are almost as good as new.’
    • ‘Floors finished with lacquer or shellac are nearly impossible to repair successfully.’
    • ‘Clear finishes would include lacquer, shellac, varnish, tung and Danish oil, linseed oil, as well as polyurethane.’
    • ‘After arranging them on boards with handmade paper and acrylic paint, she seals them with layers of lacquer.’
    • ‘Spots on all finishes except lacquer can be treated with a cloth dampened with spirits of camphor, essence of peppermint or oil of wintergreen.’
    • ‘If this method dissolves the finish, you know you are working with lacquer.’
    • ‘It may be that the only way to remove the smell from the inside will be to remove and discard the liner, then seal the interior surface with lacquer or shellac to seal in the odor, then install a new liner.’
    • ‘Finish highly detailed natural and stained wood with spray lacquer, shellac or polyurethane.’
    glaze, shellac, varnish, enamel, patina, coat, coating, covering, finish
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  • 2The sap of the lacquer tree used to varnish wood or other materials.

    • ‘The walls of these rooms are colored red, like Japanese lacquer, which contributes to the sense of narrowness and confinement, like you're dining inside an oversize bento box.’
    • ‘Since varnish is a more durable than lacquer and was in use before polyurethane was invented, it tends to be favored by many old-timers, if for no other reason than it works.’
    • ‘However, before the arrival of the Spanish in Mexico a form of lacquer was produced for the ruling class of the indigenous Tarascans in the state known today as Michoacan.’
    • ‘The secret of creating genuine lacquer was unknown in England at the time, so the real thing, imported from Asia, remained a perquisite of the very rich.’
    • ‘If you take three identical pieces of furniture, finish one in lacquer, one in varnish, and one in polyurethane, no one is going to be able to tell you which is which without testing the finish with solvents.’
    • ‘Furthermore, imitative products like varnish which substituted for lacquer generated new industries and created distinctive products.’
    • ‘The procedure for making true lacquer required the resin secreted by the Rhus vemicifera, a sumac tree that was not indigenous to the West and was unknown in Europe until the beginning of the eighteenth century.’
    • ‘Throughout the pavilion, the most costly materials were used: precious wood veneers and lacquer for furniture, silk damasks and velvets for upholstery, furs for coverlets and throws.’
    • ‘Part one ends with an asymmetrical chapter on lacquer; japanning, and varnish, gilding, and silvering.’
    • ‘A pencil company never worries about there being a graphite shortage or a cedar shortage or a shortage of yellow lacquer.’
    lacquer, lac, shellac, japan, enamel, glaze, polish, oil, resin, wax
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    1. 2.1 Decorative objects made of wood coated with lacquer.
      as modifier ‘a small lacquer box’
      • ‘Some of the highlights of the collection include Chinese jade and Japanese lacquer and carved ivories.’
      • ‘Maison Gerard, meanwhile, show a sumptuous pair of Jules Leleu commodes from the 1940s, covered in white shagreen and with sycamore interiors, gilt-bronze mounts and coral-red lacquer tops.’
      • ‘It was nothing like the jewellery she was used to handling, nothing compared to the jewels in her japanned lacquer box.’
      • ‘Then he noted phenomena clearly discernible on lacquer pieces in his own collection that, as far as he knew, had not appeared in the published sources.’
      • ‘The artist uses traditional materials - cloisonne, glazed porcelain and carved lacquer - in quite untraditional ways.’
      • ‘This year's chairman, Roger Keverne, exhibits a very rare early fifteenth-century Chinese red lacquer box and a massive Tang Horse, among other treasures.’
      • ‘The chapters are on silks, carpets, ceramics, glass, bookbinding and lacquer, and inlaid brass work.’
      • ‘However, Kagedo's main focus was to introduce contemporary Japanese lacquer artwork, and it succeeded in selling several lacquer pieces.’
      • ‘Her luxurious screens, richly evocative objects in lacquer and striking modernist standalone pieces look as innovative today as they did during the 1920s and 1930s when her career was at its height.’
      • ‘This was a quite astonishingly beautiful lacquer box with a lid.’
      • ‘In light airy bedrooms, furniture of polished lacquer and glass is (to some extent) flexible.’
      • ‘He bought deeply, acquiring contemporary cloisonne, lacquer and large porcelain vases.’
      • ‘A Chinese cabinet in melon-colored lacquer features an ever-changing tableau of vases and bowls filled with seasonal flowers.’
      • ‘The light pastel lacquer and subtly spaced designs lacked the finesse of Venetian lacquer, but the rendering of flowers and birds was worthy of an easel painting.’
      • ‘The dishes may be round or rectangular and are made of pottery, porcelain, or decorated lacquer.’
      • ‘The museum is divided into five areas displaying collections of pottery, lacquer, bamboo, embroidery and the winners of the CCA sponsored National Craft Master Awards.’
      • ‘Please be sure the Liang family is compensated for those lovely chairs and that wonderful lacquer and pearl chest.’
      • ‘Although Europeans overwhelmingly identified Japan with the highest quality lacquer, as a practical matter Japan was unable to sustain a monopoly in the medium much beyond the middle of the century.’
      • ‘If there is one style of furniture that conjures up eighteenth-century Venice it is imitation lacquer.’
      • ‘There are also old western and Thai paper documents, as well as magnificent lacquer and gilt bookcases.’
  • 3British A solution sprayed on to a person's hair to keep it in place; hairspray.

    • ‘The hair was dried, puffed out and held in place with lacquer.’
    • ‘In the Hap, the air was heady with hormones and the scent of Brylcreem, cheap hair lacquer and cigarette smoke.’
    • ‘The most common treatments are amorolfine nail lacquer, tioconazole nail solution, salicylic acid paint, and undecenoates paint.’
    • ‘In other news, my observations of London show that a Kensington hairdresser uses my company's logo to promote the use of lacquer and blow-waves!’
    • ‘He has his own blow-drier, shampoos, special mousses and hair lacquer, special stuff to fluff his tail up, and special clippers.’
    • ‘She suggested that I use a lacquer stripping shampoo as she felt my problem was product build up.’
    • ‘For my money you can bring on the Polyfilla, hair lacquer, age-defying moisturisers, body-firming machines and anything else that will help defy gravity and the march of time, if that's what works for you.’
    • ‘If the infection is mild, the most common therapy is to trim the affected part of the nail and apply a topical lacquer.’
    • ‘Yes, it's been scorching so keep spraying that ozone layer with your tins of hair lacquer!’
    • ‘Their delivery device is not an aerosol akin to that which dispenses hair lacquer but should be described as a ‘squirt can’ from which a stream of liquid is released similar to that which dispenses windscreen de-icer.’
    • ‘Thus, I roll up my jeans, apply remover and scrub my toenails with a brush, one foot at a time, followed by a rinse-and-dry and an application of OPI Java Mauve-A nail lacquer.’
    • ‘The invention also concerns a hairstyling or hair-fixing method using said composition and its use for formulating hairstyling products such as lacquers, sprays and foams for hairstyling and hair fixing.’
    • ‘All that hair lacquer skooshed by the likes of Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet at Live Aid had further reduced the ozone layer.’


[with object]often as adjective lacquered
  • Coat with lacquer.

    ‘choose from brushed or lacquered copper’
    • ‘These surfaces include lacquered tabletops, glazed ceramic tile, untextured plastic, metal surfaces, photo paper, laminate countertops, opaque glass, and more.’
    • ‘In other regions brilliantly decorated and lacquered eggs of papier mache were made.’
    • ‘Most aluminum used in visible parts of appliances is lacquered or otherwise coated, anodized or painted.’
    • ‘Copper mailboxes can be lacquered with non-tinted gloss to add to the brilliant shine and to protect the mailbox from smudges and smears.’
    • ‘The tabernacle, sanctuary lamp and all brasses have been cleaned, polished and lacquered in both Mulranny and Tiernaur churches.’
    • ‘The tool was lacquered after assembly, no coating being present between the side piece and the stock.’
    • ‘The bog oak display caught the eye of all, and its twisted roots, and that of the red deal, thousands of years old, polished, lacquered, and mounted, presented images of intriguing beauty.’
    • ‘Then the object was lacquered to protect the finish.’
    • ‘Synthetic carpets, chemically treated fabrics, painted and lacquered furniture are toxins that make continual skin contact, or may release fumes as they age.’
    • ‘Dianne let her fingers glide over the smooth, lacquered surface of the acoustic guitar.’
    • ‘Many small beautifully lacquered bowls and dishes (lacquer and woodwork are Narai's two most important crafts) are placed in front of us.’
    • ‘French and English furniture and Japanese lacquered cabinets grace the room.’
    • ‘The humble earthenware teapot rests on the red lacquered side-table which was listed after her death in the meagre inventory of Marguerite's possessions.’
    • ‘To begin with they were the only two on the workforce and Mrs Wilkinson undertook a variety of tasks, including sanding and lacquering the furniture.’
    • ‘Attempting to imitate the hand-painted and lacquered look of Far Eastern imports, they cut up and glued the paintings to plain furniture.’
    • ‘Despite it's name it actually feels more like a New York bar as they've wisely avoided the usual spread of overly lacquered replica oriental furniture.’
    • ‘Vases are carefully lacquered on the inside to make them able to hold water.’
    • ‘I sanded and planed and lacquered the floors a few years ago, and I did a pretty good job.’
    • ‘The earliest paintings showing lacquered objects were the works of Antwerp artists.’
    • ‘They could engrave it on little lacquered plaques and sell them at church socials.’
    varnish, lacquer, veneer, coat, stain, wax, shellac, enamel, put a finish on, glaze, give a shine to, gloss, polish, burnish, smooth off
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Late 16th century (denoting lac): from obsolete French lacre ‘sealing wax’, from Portuguese laca (see lac).