shellac

You might paint a layer of shellac, or varnish, on a bench built from reclaimed and stained wood, to protect it and give it a glossy sheen.

This noun, mainly associated with a thin varnish, displays its origins plainly: the main ingredient is lac, a resinous substance secreted by some scale insects. Shellac started making the rounds in English in the 18th century and enjoyed a vogue a century later as the main constituent of phonograph records. It originally came from the French laque en ├ęcailles, or "lac in thin plates."

Definitions of shellac
1

n lac purified by heating and filtering; usually in thin orange or yellow flakes but sometimes bleached white

Type of:
lac
resinlike substance secreted by certain lac insects; used in e.g. varnishes and sealing wax

n a thin varnish made by dissolving lac in ethanol; used to finish wood

Synonyms:
shellac varnish
Types:
French polish, French polish shellac
a varnish for wood consisting of shellac dissolved in alcohol
Type of:
varnish
a coating that provides a hard, lustrous, transparent finish to a surface

v cover with shellac

“She wanted to shellac the desk to protect it from water spots”
Synonyms:
shellack
Type of:
seal, varnish
cover with varnish

Sign up, it's free!

Whether you're a student, an educator, or a lifelong learner, Vocabulary.com can put you on the path to systematic vocabulary improvement.