From the Greek, the word passed into late Latin, and thence into French (asphalte) and English ("asphaltum" and "asphalt").

In French, the term asphalte is used for naturally occurring asphalt-soaked limestone deposits, and for specialised manufactured products with fewer voids or greater bitumen content than the "asphaltic concrete" used to pave roads.

The word "asphalt" is derived from the late Middle English, in turn from French asphalte, based on Late Latin asphalton, asphaltum, which is the latinisation of the Greek ἄσφαλτος (ásphaltos, ásphalton), a word meaning "asphalt/bitumen/pitch", The first use of asphalt by the ancients was in the nature of a cement for securing or joining together various objects, and it thus seems likely that the name itself was expressive of this application.

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is a sticky, black, and highly viscous liquid or semi-solid form of petroleum.

It may be found in natural deposits or may be a refined product, and is classed as a pitch.

In American English, "asphalt" is equivalent to the British "bitumen".

However, "asphalt" is also commonly used as a shortened form of "asphalt concrete" (therefore equivalent to the British "asphalt" or "tarmac").

Before the 20th century, the term asphaltum was also used.

The primary use (70%) of asphalt is in road construction, where it is used as the glue or binder mixed with aggregate particles to create asphalt concrete.The tar sands of Alberta, Canada are a similar material.Neither of the terms "asphalt" or "bitumen" should be confused with tar or coal tars.Nickel and vanadium are found at Asphalt may be confused with coal tar, which is a visually similar black, thermoplastic material produced by the destructive distillation of coal.During the early and mid-20th century, when town gas was produced, coal tar was a readily available byproduct and extensively used as the binder for road aggregates.The addition of coal tar to macadam roads led to the word "tarmac", which is now used in common parlance to refer to road-making materials.