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From Latin naphtha, from Ancient Greek νάφθα (náphtha, naphtha), from Old Persian *naftaʰ, probably borrowed or assimilated from Akkadian 𒉌𒆳𒊏 (/napṭu/, petroleum) , from the verb 𒈾𒁀𒂅 (na-ba-ṭu /napâṭu, nabâṭu/, to be(come) bright, to shine; to flare up, to blaze). The Greek mediation is reflected in the spelling – ‘ph’ and ‘th’ (from ‘φ’ and ‘θ’).


  • IPA(key): /ˈnæfθə/, /ˈnæpθə/


naphtha (countable and uncountable, plural naphthas)

  1. (dated) Naturally occurring liquid petroleum.
  2. Any of a wide variety of aliphatic or aromatic liquid hydrocarbon mixtures distilled from petroleum or coal tar, especially as used in solvents or petrol.
    • 1918, W[illiam] B[abington] Maxwell, chapter VII, in The Mirror and the Lamp, Indianapolis, Ind.: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, OCLC 4293071:
      The turmoil went on—no rest, no peace. [] It was nearly eleven o'clock now, and he strolled out again. In the little fair created by the costers' barrows the evening only seemed beginning; and the naphtha flares made one's eyes ache, the men's voices grated harshly, and the girls' faces saddened one.
    • 1973, Thomas Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow:
      No, this is not a disentanglement from, but a progressive knotting into — they go in under archways, secret entrances of rotted concrete that only looked like loops of an underpass... certain trestles of blackened wood have moved slowly by overhead, and the smells begun of coal from days far to the past, smells of naphtha winters, of Sundays when no traffic came through...
    • 1995, Philip Pullman, Northern Lights:
      The Common Room and the Library were lit by anbaric light, but the Scholars preferred the older, softer naphtha lamps in the Retiring Room.

Derived terms[edit]


  • Japanese: ナフサ (nafusa)
  • Korean: 나프타 (napeuta)



Alternative forms[edit]


From Ancient Greek νάφθα (náphtha).



naphtha f (genitive naphthae); first declension

  1. naphtha


First-declension noun.

Case Singular Plural
Nominative naphtha naphthae
Genitive naphthae naphthārum
Dative naphthae naphthīs
Accusative naphtham naphthās
Ablative naphthā naphthīs
Vocative naphtha naphthae



  • naphtha”, in Charlton T. Lewis and Charles Short (1879) A Latin Dictionary, Oxford: Clarendon Press
  • naphtha in Gaffiot, Félix (1934) Dictionnaire illustré latin-français, Hachette