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Bi*tu"men, n. Etym: [L. bitumen: cf. F. bitume. Cf. Béton.]
1. Mineral pitch; a black, tarry substance, burning with a bright flame; Jew's pitch. It occurs as an abundant natural product in many places, as on the shores of the Dead and Caspian Seas. It is used in cements, in the construction of pavements, etc. See Asphalt.
2. By extension, any one of the natural hydrocarbons, including the hard, solid, brittle varieties called asphalt, the semisolid maltha and mineral tars, the oily petroleums, and even the light, volatile naphthas.
---excerpt from the Illustrated Bible Dictionary
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