creosote

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cre·o·sote / ˈkrēəˌsōt/ • n. (also creosote oil) a dark brown oil distilled from coal tar and used as a wood preservative. It contains a number of phenols, cresols, and other organic compounds. ∎  a colorless, pungent, oily liquid, containing creosol and other compounds, distilled from wood tar and used as an antiseptic. • v. [tr.] treat (wood) with creosote.

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creosote (krē´əsōt), volatile, heavy, oily liquid obtained by the distillation of coal tar or wood tar. Creosote derived from beechwood tar has been used medicinally as an antiseptic and in the treatment of chronic bronchitis. Creosote obtained from coal tar is poisonous. It is used chiefly as a preservative for wood, e.g., in fence posts, railroad ties, and telephone poles, in which it provides protection against fungi, shipworms, and termites, and is also used as a pesticide and to treat psoriasis. Creosote is considered to be highly toxic and a likely carcinogen. It can leach out into the surrounding soil and groundwater, and the fumes exuded will kill young plants in close proximity.

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creosote XIX. — G. kreosote, f. Gr. kreo-, kreō-, comb. form of kréas flesh + sōtḗr saviour, sōtēríā safety, with ref. to the antiseptic properties.