Naph"tha (?), n. [L. naphtha, Gr. , fr.Ar. nafth, nifth.]

1. Chem.

The complex mixture of volatile, liquid, inflammable hydrocarbons, occurring naturally, and usually called crude petroleum, mineral oil, or rock oil. Specifically: That portion of the distillate obtained in the refinement of petroleum which is intermediate between the lighter gasoline and the heavier benzine, and has a specific gravity of about 0.7, -- used as a solvent for varnishes, as a carburetant, illuminant, etc.

2. Chem.

One of several volatile inflammable liquids obtained by the distillation of certain carbonaceous materials and resembling the naphtha from petroleum; as, Boghead naphtha, from Boghead coal (obtained at Boghead, Scotland); crude naphtha, or light oil, from coal tar; wood naphtha, from wood, etc.

⇒ This term was applied by the earlier chemical writers to a number of volatile, strong smelling, inflammable liquids, chiefly belonging to the ethers, as the sulphate, nitrate, or acetate of ethyl.


Naphtha vitrioli [NL., naphtha of vitriol] Old Chem., common ethyl ether; -- formerly called sulphuric ether. See Ether.


© Webster 1913.