1. A viscid liquid, consisting of a solution of resinous matter in an oil or a volatile liquid, laid on work with a brush, or otherwise. When applied the varnish soon dries, either by evaporation or chemical action, and the resinous part forms thus a smooth, hard surface, with a beautiful gloss, capable of resisting, to a greater or less degree, the influences of air and moisture.
According to the sorts of solvents employed, the ordinary kinds of varnish are divided into three classes: spirit, turpentine, and oil varnishes.
2. That which resembles varnish, either naturally or artificially; a glossy appearance. The varnish of the holly and ivy. (Macaulay)
3. An artificial covering to give a fair appearance to any act or conduct; outside show; gloss. ”And set a double varnish on the fame The Frenchman gave you.
(Science: botany)” (Shak) Varnish tree, a tree or shrub from the juice or resin of which varnish is made, as some species of the genus rhus, especially R. Vernicifera of japan. The black varnish of Burmah is obtained from the melanorrhoea usitatissima, a tall East indian tree of the Cashew family. See Copal, and mastic.
Origin: OE. Vernish, F. Vernis, LL. Vernicium; akin to F. Vernir to varnish, fr. (assumed) LL. Vitrinire to glaze, from LL. Vitrinus glassy, fr. L. Vitrum glass. See Vitreous.