From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 [gcide]:
Paraffin \Par"af*fin\ (p[a^]r"[a^]f*f[i^]n), Paraffine \Par"af*fine\ (p[a^]r"[a^]f*f[i^]n or p[a^]r"[a^]f*f[=e]n), noun [F. paraffine, fr. L. parum too little + affinis akin. So named in allusion to its chemical inactivity.] (Chem.) A white waxy substance, resembling spermaceti, tasteless and odorless, and obtained from coal tar, wood tar, petroleum, etc., by distillation. It is used in candles, as a sealing agent (such as in canning of preserves), as a waterproofing agent, as an illuminant and as a lubricant. It is very inert, not being acted upon by most of the strong chemical reagents. It was formerly regarded as a definite compound, but is now known to be a complex mixture of several higher hydrocarbons of the methane or marsh-gas series; hence, by extension, any substance, whether solid, liquid, or gaseous, of the same chemical series; thus gasoline, coal gas and kerosene consist largely of paraffins. [1913 Webster +PJC]
From WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006) [wn]:
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