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[am-ber] /ˈæm bər/
a pale yellow, sometimes reddish or brownish, fossil resin of vegetable origin, translucent, brittle, and capable of gaining a negative electrical charge by friction and of being an excellent insulator: used for making jewelry and other ornamental articles.
the yellowish-brown color of resin.
of the color of amber; yellowish-brown:
amber fields of grain.
made of amber:
amber earrings.
Origin of amber
1350-1400; Middle English ambre < Old French < Medieval Latin ambra < Arabic ʿanbar ambergris; confusion of the dissimilar substances perhaps because both were rare, valuable, and found on seacoasts
Related forms
amberlike, ambery, amberous, adjective


[am-ber] /ˈæm bər/
a female given name. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for amber
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • These properties of amber and lodestone appear to have been widely known.

  • And ever after that they wept sweet tears of amber, clear as sunlight.

    Old Greek Folk Stories Told Anew Josephine Preston Peabody
  • The orange, or yellow, and the black with amber eyes are also prize winners.

    Concerning Cats Helen M. Winslow
  • The beams of the ceiling, ornamented with amber, rose in wide arches.

  • It went up and down all day, for amber Guiting was the terminus.

    Jan and Her Job L. Allen Harker
British Dictionary definitions for amber


  1. a yellow or yellowish-brown hard translucent fossil resin derived from extinct coniferous trees that occurs in Tertiary deposits and often contains trapped insects. It is used for jewellery, ornaments, etc
  2. (as modifier): an amber necklace, related adjective succinic
fly in amber, a strange relic or reminder of the past
  1. a medium to dark brownish-yellow colour, often somewhat orange, similar to that of the resin
  2. (as adjective): an amber dress
an amber traffic light used as a warning between red and green
Word Origin
C14: from Medieval Latin ambar, from Arabic `anbar ambergris
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
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Word Origin and History for amber

mid-14c., "ambergris, perfume made from ambergris," from Old French ambre, from Medieval Latin ambar "ambergris," from Arabic 'anbar "ambergris." In Europe, the sense was extended, inexplicably, to fossil resins from the Baltic (late 13c. in Anglo-Latin; c.1400 in English), which has become the main sense as the use of ambergris has waned. This formerly was known as white or yellow amber to distinguish it from ambergris, which word entered English early 15c. from French, which distinguished the two substances as ambre gris and amber jaune. The classical word for Baltic amber was electrum (cf. electric).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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amber in Science

A hard, translucent, brownish-yellow substance that is the fossilized resin of ancient trees. It often contains fossil insects.

Our Living Language  : Certain trees, especially conifers, produce a sticky substance called resin to protect themselves against insects. Normally, it decays in oxygen through the action of bacteria. However, if the resin happens to fall into wet mud or sand containing little oxygen, it can harden and eventually fossilize, becoming the yellowish, translucent substance known as amber. If any insects or other organisms are trapped in the resin before it hardens, they can be preserved, often in exquisite detail. By studying these preserved organisms, scientists are able learn key facts about life on Earth millions of years ago.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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