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[meer-shuh m, -shawm] /ˈmɪər ʃəm, -ʃɔm/
a mineral, hydrous magnesium silicate, H 4 Mg 2 Si 3 O 1 0 , occurring in white, claylike masses, used for ornamental carvings, for pipe bowls, etc.; sepiolite.
a tobacco pipe with a bowl made of this substance.
Origin of meerschaum
1775-85; < German Meerschaum, equivalent to Meer sea (see mere2) + Schaum foam Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for meerschaum
Historical Examples
  • It was as if the old days of the music-lesson and the meerschaum had come back.

    Alice, or The Mysteries, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • "Nobody ever gives me a meerschaum pipe," he said, plaintively.

  • When the long dinner hour was over, Papa Wolf lighted his meerschaum.

    The Forbidden Trail Honor Willsie
  • He puffed periodically on his "meerschaum" pipe, and directed the sluicing.

    Blazed Trail Stories Stewart Edward White
  • The little fat host moved the hand that held the meerschaum.

    The Island Pharisees John Galsworthy
  • He blinked twice, and put the meerschaum back between his lips.

    The Island Pharisees John Galsworthy
  • Fresh, vigorous puffs from the meerschaum accompanied these words.

    Good Blood Ernst Von Wildenbruch
  • From his lips protruded a large pipe, with its huge bowl of meerschaum.

    The Bush Boys Captain Mayne Reid
  • Light your meerschaum, doctor,” I said, “while I go and see how matters are proceeding.

    The Young Llanero W.H.G. Kingston
  • The meerschaum is good for flowers, I fancy, so have no scruple.

    Ernest Maltravers, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
British Dictionary definitions for meerschaum


Also called sepiolite. a white, yellowish, or pink compact earthy mineral consisting of hydrated magnesium silicate: used to make tobacco pipes and as a building stone. Formula: Mg2Si3O6(OH)4
a tobacco pipe having a bowl made of this mineral
Word Origin
C18: German, literally: sea foam
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 meerschaum

type of soft white clay, 1784; from 1789 as "tobacco pipe with a bowl made of meerschaum clay," from German Meerschaum, literally "sea-foam," so called from its frothy appearance; from Old High German mari "sea" (see mere (n.)) + scum "scum" (see skim (v.)). A loan-translation of Latin spuma maris, itself said to be a loan translation of Greek halos akhne, from Persian kaf-i-darya.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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