A white waxy substance obtained from cavities in the head of the sperm whale, and used making candles, oilments, cosmetics, etc. It consists essentially of ethereal salts of palmitic acid with ethal and other hydrocarbon bases. The substance of spermaceti after the removal of certain impurities is sometimes called cetin.
Origin: L. Sperma sperm + cetus,gen. Ceti, any large sea animal, a whale, Gr. See Sperm, Cetaceous.
(01 Mar 1998)
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