verb (used with object), sa·pon·i·fied, sa·pon·i·fy·ing.
- to convert (a fat) into soap by treating with an alkali.
- to decompose (any ester), forming the corresponding alcohol and acid or salt.
verb (used without object), sa·pon·i·fied, sa·pon·i·fy·ing.
- to become converted into soap.
verb -fies, -fying or -fied chem
- to undergo or cause to undergo a process in which a fat is converted into a soap by treatment with alkali
- to undergo or cause to undergo a reaction in which an ester is hydrolysed to an acid and an alcohol as a result of treatment with an alkali
n.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). v.1821, from French saponifier (see saponification). Related: Saponified; saponifying. n.
- A reaction in which an ester is heated with an alkali, such as sodium hydroxide, producing a free alcohol and an acid salt, especially alkaline hydrolysis of a fat or oil to make soap.
- To undergo saponification.