AskDefine | Define unguent

Dictionary Definition

unguent n : semisolid preparation (usually containing a medicine) applied externally as a remedy or for soothing an irritation [syn: ointment, unction, balm, salve]

User Contributed Dictionary



From unguentum, from unguere, from .
Cognates include Old Prussian anctan, Old High German ancho, German anke, Welsh ymenyn.


  • /ˈʌŋgwənt/


  1. any cream containing medicinal ingredients applied to the skin for therapeutic purposes


  • 1809-1812 — William Combe, Tour of Doctor Syntax in Search of the Picturesque
    "Alas!" said Syntax, "could I pop / Just now, upon a blacksmith's shop, / Whose cooling unguents would avail / To save poor Grizzle's ears and tail!"
  • 1853 — Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Golden Fleece
    So she put a golden box into his hand, and directed him how to apply the perfumed unguent which it contained, and where to meet her at midnight.
  • 1890 — Arthur Conan Doyle, A Literary Mosaic
    Thou knowest of old that my temper is somewhat choleric, and my tongue not greased with that unguent which oils the mouths of the lip-serving lords of the land.

See also

Extensive Definition

An unguent is a soothing topical preparation spread on wounds, burns, rashes, abrasions or other topical injuries. It is similar to an ointment, though typically an unguent is less viscous and more oily.
It is usually delivered as a semi-solid paste spread on the skin and is often oily to suspend the medication or other active ingredients. See also salve.


Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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