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From Old French camphore or Medieval Latin camphora, from Arabic كَافُور(kāfūr), via an Austronesian language such as Malay kapur from Sanskrit कर्पूर (karpūra). It is possible that the Sanskrit term was borrowed from Malay rather than vice versa.



camphor (countable and uncountable, plural camphors)

  1. (organic chemistry) A white transparent waxy crystalline isoprenoid ketone, 1,7,7-trimethylbicyclo[2.2.1]heptan-2-one, with a strong pungent odour, used in pharmacy.
    • 1895, H. G. Wells, The Time Machine Chapter X,
      I fancied at first the stuff was paraffin wax, and smashed the jar accordingly. But the odour of camphor was unmistakable. It struck me as singularly odd, that among the universal decay, this volatile substance had chanced to survive, perhaps through many thousand years.

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