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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Saponin \Sap"o*nin\, n. [L. sapo, -onis soap: cf. F. saponine.] (Chem.) A poisonous glucoside found in many plants, as in the root of soapwort ( Saponaria), in the bark of soap bark ( Quillaia), etc. It is extracted as a white amorphous powder, which occasions a soapy lather in solution, and produces a local an[ae]sthesia. Formerly called also struthiin, quillaiin, senegin, polygalic acid, etc. By extension, any one of a group of related bodies of which saponin proper is the type.


n. (context organic chemistry steroid English) Any of various steroid glycosides found in plant tissues that dissolve in water to give a soapy froth.


n. any of various plant glucosides that form soapy lathers when mixed and agitated with water; used in detergents and foaming agents and emulsifiers


Saponins are a class of chemical compounds found in particular abundance in various plant species. More specifically, they are amphipathic glycosides grouped phenomenologically by the soap-like foaming they produce when shaken in aqueous solutions, and structurally by having one or more hydrophilic glycoside moieties combined with a lipophilic triterpene derivative.

Usage examples of "saponin".

It was deeper, and in the rock nearby was a basin-like depression which she used to pound the saponin out of the soaproots.

A fragrant, spicy perfume filled the air, and when she dipped in a soft scrap of leather, the solution of plant saponin foamed slightly, but it would need no rinsing and leave only a pleasant scent.

It contains resin and mucilage, in addition to saponin, which is its leading principle, and by virtue of which decoctions of the root produce a soapy froth.

She rinsed the roots, scooped water into a depression, and pounded the soaproot to release the rich sudsy saponin.

Other constituents are a crystalline saponin- like glucoside, an amorphous, bitter glucoside, which is a modification of tannin, and is known as Ipecacuanhic acid, choline, resin, pectin, starch, sugar, calcium oxalate, odorous, fatty matter and a disagreeable-smelling volatile oil.

Another group of steroids, found in certain plants are called saponins (sap'oh-ninz.

Digitonin, which is a cardiac depressant, containing none of the physiological action peculiar to Digitalis, and is identical with Saponin, the chief constituent of Senega root.