Acrylic is a kind of plastic, fabric, fiber, or paint that’s made from acrylic acid. You might knit your mom an acrylic hat if she’s allergic to wool.

Anything made of acrylic is synthetic — it’s not a natural substance or fiber, but was made in a lab or factory from artificial materials. Acrylic paint is a quick-drying, water-soluble kind of paint that artists often use instead of oil paint or watercolors. The original meaning of acrylic was “containing acryl,” from acrolein, the sharp, bitter liquid in onions, rooted in the Latin words acer, “sharp,” and olere, “to smell.”

Definitions of acrylic
  1. noun

    a glassy thermoplastic; can be cast and molded or used in coatings and adhesives

    acrylate resin, acrylic resin
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    Acrilan, polypropenonitrile

    acrylic resin used to make a strong soft crease-resistant fabric (trade name Acrilan)
    polymethyl methacrylate

    a transparent plastic used as a substitute for glass
    Lucite, Perspex

    a transparent thermoplastic acrylic resin
    Plexiglas, plexiglass

    a light transparent weather resistant thermoplastic
    type of:

    synthetic resin

    a resin having a polymeric structure; especially a resin in the raw state; used chiefly in plastics

  2. noun

    a synthetic fabric

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    an acrylic fabric resembling wool

    an acrylic fiber or the lightweight crease-resistant fabric made with Orlon yarns
    type of:

    cloth, fabric, material, textile

    artifact made by weaving or felting or knitting or crocheting natural or synthetic fibers

  3. noun

    polymerized from acrylonitrile

    acrylic fiber
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    type of:

    man-made fiber, synthetic fiber

    fiber created from natural materials or by chemical processes

  4. noun

    used especially by artists

    acrylic paint
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    type of:

    paint, pigment

    a substance used as a coating to protect or decorate a surface (especially a mixture of pigment suspended in a liquid); dries to form a hard coating

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