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alabaster

[al-uh-bas-ter, -bah-ster]
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noun
  1. a finely granular variety of gypsum, often white and translucent, used for ornamental objects or work, such as lamp bases, figurines, etc.
  2. Also called Oriental alabaster. a variety of calcite, often banded, used or sold as alabaster.
adjective Also al·a·bas·trine [al-uh-bas-trin] /ˌæl əˈbæs trɪn/.
  1. made of alabaster: an alabaster column.
  2. resembling alabaster; smooth and white: her alabaster throat.

Origin of alabaster

1350–1400; < Latin < Greek alábastros; replacing Middle English alabastre < Middle French < Latin
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for alabaster

alabaster

noun
  1. a fine-grained usually white, opaque, or translucent variety of gypsum used for statues, vases, etc
  2. a variety of hard semitranslucent calcite, often banded like marble
adjective
  1. of or resembling alabaster
Derived Formsalabastrine, adjective

Word Origin

C14: from Old French alabastre, from Latin alabaster, from Greek alabastros
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for alabaster

n.

translucent whitish kind of gypsum used for vases, ornaments, and busts, late 14c., from Old French alabastre (12c., Modern French albâtre), from Latin alabaster "colored rock used to make boxes and vessels for unguents," from Greek alabastros (earlier albatos) "vase for perfumes," perhaps from Egyptian 'a-labaste "vessel of the goddess Bast." Used figuratively for whiteness and smoothness from 1570s. "The spelling in 16-17th c. is almost always alablaster ..." [OED].

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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