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marble

[mahr-buh l]
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noun
  1. metamorphosed limestone, consisting chiefly of recrystallized calcite or dolomite, capable of taking a high polish, occurring in a wide range of colors and variegations and used in sculpture and architecture.
  2. any variety of this stone: Carrara marble.
  3. an object made of or carved from this stone, especially a sculpture: Renaissance marbles.
  4. a piece of this stone: the fallen marbles of Roman ruins.
  5. (not in technical use) any of various breccias or other stones that take a high polish and show a variegated pattern.
  6. a marbled appearance or pattern; marbling: The woodwork had a greenish marble.
  7. anything resembling marble in hardness, coldness, smoothness, etc.: a brow of marble.
  8. something lacking in warmth or feeling.
  9. a little ball made of stone, baked clay, glass, porcelain, agate, or steel, especially for use in games.
  10. marbles, (used with a singular verb) a game for children in which a marble is propelled by the thumb to hit another marble so as to drive it out of a circle drawn or scratched on the ground.
  11. marbles, Slang. normal rational faculties; sanity; wits; common sense: to have all one's marbles; to lose one's marbles.
adjective
  1. consisting or made of marble.
  2. like marble, as in hardness, coldness, smoothness, etc.
  3. lacking in warmth, compassion, or sympathy: marble heart.
  4. of variegated or mottled color.
verb (used with object), mar·bled, mar·bling.
  1. to color or stain like variegated marble.
  2. to apply a decorative pattern to (paper, the edges of a book, etc.) by transferring oil pigments floating on water.

Origin of marble

1150–1200; Middle English marbel, dissimilated variant of Old English marmel (in marmelstān marble stone) < Latin marmor < Greek mármaros, akin to marmaírein to sparkle
Related formsmar·bler, nounun·mar·bled, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for marbles

marbles

noun
  1. (functioning as singular) a game in which marbles are rolled at one another, similar to bowls
  2. (functioning as plural) informal witsto lose one's marbles

marble

noun
    1. a hard crystalline metamorphic rock resulting from the recrystallization of a limestone: takes a high polish and is used for building and sculpture
    2. (as modifier)a marble bust Related adjective: marmoreal
  1. a block or work of art of marble
  2. a small round glass or stone ball used in playing marbles
  3. make one's marble good Australian and NZ informal to succeed or do the right thing
  4. pass in one's marble Australian informal to die
verb
  1. (tr) to mottle with variegated streaks in imitation of marble
adjective
  1. cold, hard, or unresponsive
  2. white like some kinds of marble
See also marbles
Derived Formsmarbled, adjectivemarbler, nounmarbly, adjective

Word Origin

C12: via Old French from Latin marmor, from Greek marmaros, related to Greek marmairein to gleam
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 marbles

n.

children's game, from plural of marble (n.); first recorded by that name in 1709 but probably older (it was known in 13c. German as tribekugeln) and originally played with small balls of polished marble or alabaster, later clay; the modern glass ones with the colored swirl date from 1840s.

Meaning "mental faculties, common sense" is from 1927, American English slang, perhaps [OED] from earlier slang marbles "furniture, personal effects, 'the goods' " (1864, Hotten), a corrupt translation of French meubles (plural) "furniture" (see furniture).

marble

adj.

late 14c., "of marble," from marble (n.). Meaning "mottled like marble" is mid-15c. Marble cake is attested from 1864.

marble

v.

1590s (implied in marbled), "to give (something) the appearance of marble," from marble (n.). Related: Marbling.

marble

n.

type of stone much used in sculpture, monuments, etc., early 14c., by dissimilation from marbra (mid-12c.), from Old French marbre (which itself underwent dissimilation of 2nd -r- to -l- in 14c.; marbre persisted in English into early 15c.), from Latin marmor, from or cognate with Greek marmaros "marble, gleaming stone," of unknown origin, perhaps originally an adjective meaning "sparkling," which would connect it with marmairein "to shine." The Latin word was taken directly into Old English as marma. German Marmor is restored Latin from Old High German marmul. Meaning "little balls of marble used in a children's game" is attested from 1690s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

marbles in Science

marble

[märbəl]
  1. A metamorphic rock consisting primarily of calcite and dolomite. Marble is formed by the metamorphism of limestone. Although it is usually white to gray in color, it often has irregularly colored marks due to the presence of impurities such as silica and clay. Marble is used especially in sculpture and as a building material.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with marbles

marble

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.