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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Turpentine \Tur"pen*tine\, n. [F. t['e]r['e]bentine, OF. also turbentine; cf. Pr. terebentina, terbentina, It. terebentina, trementina; fr. L. terebinthinus of the turpentine tree, from terebinthus the turpentine tree. Gr. ?, ?. See Terebinth.] A semifluid or fluid oleoresin, primarily the exudation of the terebinth, or turpentine, tree ( Pistacia Terebinthus), a native of the Mediterranean region. It is also obtained from many coniferous trees, especially species of pine, larch, and fir.

Note: There are many varieties of turpentine. Chian turpentine is produced in small quantities by the turpentine tree ( Pistacia Terebinthus). Venice, Swiss, or larch turpentine, is obtained from Larix Europ[ae]a. It is a clear, colorless balsam, having a tendency to solidify. Canada turpentine, or Canada balsam, is the purest of all the pine turpentines (see under Balsam). The Carpathian and Hungarian varieties are derived from Pinus Cembra and Pinus Mugho. Carolina turpentine, the most abundant kind, comes from the long-leaved pine ( Pinus palustris). Strasburg turpentine is from the silver fir ( Abies pectinata).

Oil of turpentine (Chem.), a colorless oily hydrocarbon, C10H16, of a pleasant aromatic odor, obtained by the distillation of crude turpentine. It is used in making varnishes, in medicine, etc. It is the type of the terpenes and is related to cymene. Called also terebenthene, terpene, etc.

Turpentine moth (Zo["o]l.), any one of several species of small tortricid moths whose larv[ae] eat the tender shoots of pine and fir trees, causing an exudation of pitch or resin.

Turpentine tree (Bot.), the terebinth tree, the original source of turpentine. See Turpentine, above.


n. (context organic chemistry English) A very large class of naturally occurring and synthetic organic compounds formally derived from the hydrocarbon isoprene; they include many volatile compounds used in perfume and food flavours, turpentine, the steroids, the carotene pigments and rubber.


n. an unsaturated hydrocarbon obtained from plants


Terpenes are a large and diverse class of organic compounds, produced by a variety of plants, particularly conifers, though also by some insects such as termites or swallowtail butterflies, which emit terpenes from their osmeteria. They are often strong-smelling. They may protect the plants that produce them by deterring herbivores and by attracting predators and parasites of herbivores. Many terpenes are aromatic hydrocarbons and thus may have had a protective function. The difference between terpenes and terpenoids is that terpenes are hydrocarbons, whereas terpenoids contain additional functional groups.

They are the major components of resin, and of turpentine produced from resin. The name "terpene" is derived from the word " turpentine". In addition to their roles as end-products in many organisms, terpenes are major biosynthetic building blocks within nearly every living creature. Steroids, for example, are derivatives of the triterpene squalene.

When terpenes are modified chemically, such as by oxidation or rearrangement of the carbon skeleton, the resulting compounds are generally referred to as terpenoids. Some authors will use the term terpene to include all terpenoids. Terpenoids are also known as isoprenoids.

Terpenes and terpenoids are the primary constituents of the essential oils of many types of plants and flowers. Essential oils are used widely as fragrances in perfumery, and in medicine and alternative medicines such as aromatherapy. Synthetic variations and derivatives of natural terpenes and terpenoids also greatly expand the variety of aromas used in perfumery and flavors used in food additives. Vitamin A is a terpene.

Terpenes are released by trees more actively in warmer weather, acting as a natural form of cloud seeding. The clouds reflect sunlight, allowing the forest to regulate its temperature.

The aroma and flavor of hops, highly desirable in some beers, comes from terpenes. Of the terpenes in hops myrcene, β-pinene, β-caryophyllene, and α-humulene are found in the largest quantities.

Terpenes are also major constituents of Cannabis sativa plants, which contain at least 120 identified compounds. In addition to being responsible for the plant’s aroma, they can act synergistically with cannabinoids. In fact, there are several promising applications based on the combined use of cannabinoids and terpenes, such as new acne therapies utilizing CBD with the monoterpenes limonene, linalool, and pinene; new antiseptic agents with CBG and pinene; treatment of social anxiety disorder using CBD with limonene and linalool; and treatment of sleeping disorders by adding caryophyllene, linalool, and myrcene to 1:1 CBD/ THC extracts.

Usage examples of "terpene".

What actually happens when a pistillate plant remains unfertilized for its entire life and how this ulti- mately affects the cannabinoid (class of molecules found only in Cannabis) and terpene (a class of aromatic organic compounds) levels remains a mystery.