Definition of saponify in English:


verbsaponifies, saponifying, saponified

[with object]
  • 1Chemistry
    Turn (fat or oil) into soap by reaction with an alkali.

    as adjective saponified ‘saponified vegetable oils’
    • ‘The purpose of an alkali is to saponify the oils and dislodge ordinary soil and other matter.’
    • ‘In this work, saponified coconut oil was used as a chemical model to explain the behavior of amphiphilic molecules in biological systems related to their mutagenesis potential.’
    • ‘Its vegetable and botanical ingredients include saponified coconut and olive oils, a natural citrus essential-oil blend, and aloe and rosemary extracts.’
    • ‘Sterol lipids were saponified and extracted using a modification of a published method.’
    • ‘After visualization with primuline (0 • 01% in 80% acetone), lipid bands were scraped off, saponified and fatty acids methylated with boron trifluoride.’
    1. 1.1Convert (any ester) into an alcohol and a metal salt by alkaline hydrolysis.
      • ‘The resulting ester was saponified under basic conditions to the free acid, converted to the acyl chloride with thionyl chloride, and then to the amide with anhydrous ammonia gas.’
      • ‘The ethyl ester protecting groups of the tartrate were saponified in 1 M NaOH and heated at 40-45 deg C for I h.’
      • ‘A sample of the isolated anthocyanins was also saponified using the method described by Durst and Wrolstad to remove acylation.’
      • ‘Under acidic conditions, it changes into Pheo a, whereas it is saponified to chlorophyllide under alkali conditions.’


Early 19th century from French saponifier, from Latin sapo, sapon- ‘soap’.