Also found in: Medical, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.


A brown, fatty, waxlike substance that forms on dead animal tissues in response to moisture.

[adipo(se) + Latin cēra, wax.]


(ˌædɪpəʊˈsɪə; ˈædɪpəʊˌsɪə)
(Biochemistry) a waxlike fatty substance formed during the decomposition of corpses. Nontechnical name: grave-wax
[C19: via French from New Latin adiposus fat (see adipose) + French cire wax]
adipocerous adj
References in periodicals archive ?
The water promoted anaerobic bacterial hydrolysis of the fat in body tissue, which generated a waxy organic substance called adipocere.
She was covered over all with adipocere, a pale gray cheesy mold common to corpses in damp places, and scallops of pale green fungus grew along.
This storehouse for the anatomically strange displays some 20,000 items, including grossly enlarged organs, the body of a woman whose corpse turned into a soapy substance called adipocere, the bones of the tallest man in North America, and the death cast of Chang and Eng, the original "Siamese Twins," whose autopsy was performed in the museum.
The end result is called adipocere, or grave wax, reports Discovery News.
Adipocere was present in four cases (two exhumations, one corpse wrapped in plastic bags, one dismembered corpse inside a bag).
Wilson presented an example of saponification when, with her glove-covered hand, she pulled off layers of adipocere and reminded everyone that "We are what we eat.