Tartar is the buildup of plaque that can form on your teeth and cause cavities. If you become a dentist one day, part of your job will be scraping tartar off people's teeth.

Tartar is a very hard substance, too hard to be brushed off with a toothbrush. It's formed when certain elements in saliva mix with the plaque that commonly occurs on teeth. Another kind of tartar is known as "cream of tartar," and it's a common ingredient in baking, either alone or as an ingredient in baking powder. The Greek root refers to this baking tartar, tartaron, "substance encrusting the sides of wine casks."

Definitions of tartar
  1. noun
    an incrustation that forms on the teeth and gums
    synonyms: calculus, tophus
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    type of:
    crust, encrustation, incrustation
    a hard outer layer that covers something
  2. noun
    a salt used especially in baking powder
    synonyms: cream of tartar, potassium bitartrate, potassium hydrogen tartrate
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    type of:
    a compound formed by replacing hydrogen in an acid by a metal (or a radical that acts like a metal)
  3. noun
    a fiercely vigilant and unpleasant woman
    synonyms: dragon
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    type of:
    disagreeable woman, unpleasant woman
    a woman who is an unpleasant person
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