Definition of talcum in English:


(also talcum powder)


  • A cosmetic or toilet preparation consisting of the mineral talc in powdered form, typically perfumed.

    • ‘When my daughter was growing up we had a cardboard template of a big boot print in which we would scatter talcum powder on the carpet making a set of ‘snow’ footprints from the door to the Christmas tree.’
    • ‘To make handling the brittle leaf easier, dust your hands with talcum powder before beginning.’
    • ‘I just love sandalwood: soap, incense, oil and even talcum powder.’
    • ‘One warm, humid summer day is all it takes to trigger an outbreak of powdery mildew, a fungal disease that causes leaves to look as if they have been sprinkled with talcum powder.’
    • ‘Each morning we have to prepare our steeds, check their hooves, talcum powder them, saddle them and harness them.’
    • ‘If your hair is greasy, shake on some talcum powder at the roots and brush through (but use it sparingly, or you'll look prematurely grey).’
    • ‘Many people try simple home remedies like talcum powder, anti-perspirants and solutions containing aluminium to soak their feet.’
    • ‘I was away at an archery competition back in 1995 in Jakarta and one of the Australian archers had run out of talcum powder, they use talc when they shoot, and asked me to get some talc for him.’
    • ‘When the dry storm clears, the world and its contents are blanketed by a fresh covering of fine dust with the consistency of talcum powder.’
    • ‘Even when Marsh joined the business 30 years ago he recalls filling oval tins with perfumed talcum powder using a spoon and hauling ingredients from floor to floor using a bucket and rope.’
    • ‘Do you ever wear make-up, for example, or simply use deodorants, after-shave, talcum powder?’
    • ‘After users discovered that talcum powder caused patient complications similar to those caused by lycopodium powder, they began to transition to the use of cornstarch in 1947.’
    • ‘I inhaled the smell of old perfume and talcum powder every time I helped zip her dress.’
    • ‘There's no shower at work, but Mac keeps deodorant, talcum powder and other toiletries in his locker so he can clean up a little, using the men's-room sink.’
    • ‘Home remedies abound, as well, including cayenne, hot-pepper sauce, talcum powder, blood meal, dog hair, and deodorant soap.’
    • ‘Fuss' photograms have reproduced water droplets, birds in flight, moving light and even a trail of snakes moving across light-sensitive paper, dusted with talcum powder.’
    • ‘Usually, when we have dust storms, the dust is as fine as talcum powder.’
    • ‘Her smell of talcum powder and musky floral perfume was now mixed in with the lemony stench of hospitals.’
    • ‘Everything around us was covered in a fine, gray dust the consistency and feel of talcum powder.’
    • ‘I remember the trend when I was at school that if we didn't have time to wash our hair, we would use dry powder shampoo or if desperate talcum powder, usually with disgusting results.’


  • Powder (something) with talcum powder.

    • ‘Pat dry, take care to dry between the toes, then apply cream (the cheaper the better) before gently talcuming between the toes (can use baby powder or medicated varieties).’
    • ‘With his rouged cheeks and talcumed face, he resembled a genial eighteenth century wind-up doll waving welcome with choppy strokes.’
    • ‘The hill was lightly talcumed with snow, glittering with crystal-like blindness, giving the impression of frigid formality; the December afternoon sun, sitting low in a field of blue, kindled a promising evening.’
    • ‘At the end she whisks and talcums my neck.’
    • ‘He even dips into a Southern gothic mode briefly with a curious childhood anecdote about his father singing, with talcumed hair, ‘When I Grow Too Old to Dream.’’
    • ‘In some of the portraits of women the flesh of bare arms and shoulders looks powdered and resilient, as though they were blown up from some specially luxurious surgical rubber and then talcumed.’
    • ‘Crossroads worries about the crowds jostling the elegant, talcumed, perfumed elbows of its serious shoppers.’


Mid 16th century: from medieval Latin, from Arabic ṭalḳ, from Persian.