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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Hydrolysis \Hy*drol"y*sis\, n. [Hydro-, 1 + -lysis.] (Chem.) A chemical process causing the splitting of a chemical bond by the addition of the elements of water. Where the bond which is split is not part of a ring structure, this process causes formation of two compounds from one compound plus water, as in the hydrolysis of the ester bonds of fats during saponification.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1801, from French saponification, from saponifier, from Modern Latin saponificare, from sapon- "soap" (see soap (n.)) + -ficare, from Latin facere "to make, do" (see factitious).


n. 1 (context chemistry English) The hydrolysis of an ester under basic conditions to form an alcohol and the salt of the acid. 2 The reaction of a metallic alkali (base) with a fat or oil to form soap.


n. a chemical reaction in which an ester is heated with an alkali (especially the alkaline hydrolysis of a fat or oil to make soap)


Saponification is a process that produces soap, usually from fats and lye.

Usage examples of "saponification".

When he talked about fluxing and reducing reagents, saponification numbers, Elliot apparatus and molecular weights--why do the simpleminded ones always talk about their business with big words?

The corpse was still in a state of saponification, where the meaty tissue and organs had turned into a firm soaplike substance.