Meaning of detergent

de•ter•gent

Pronunciation: (di-tûr'junt), [key]
— n.
  1. any of a group of synthetic, organic, liquid or water-soluble cleaning agents that, unlike soap, are not prepared from fats and oils, are not inactivated by hard water, and have wetting-agent and emulsifying-agent properties.
  2. a similar substance that is oil-soluble and capable of holding insoluble foreign matter in suspension, used in lubricating oils, dry-cleaning preparations, etc.
  3. any cleansing agent, including soap. Cf. anionic detergent, cationic detergent, synthetic detergent.
—adj.
  1. cleansing; purging.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.
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