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[on-iks, oh-niks] /ˈɒn ɪks, ˈoʊ nɪks/
Mineralogy. a variety of chalcedony having straight parallel bands of alternating colors.
Compare Mexican onyx.
(not used technically) an unbanded chalcedony dyed for ornamental purposes.
black, especially a pure or jet black.
Medicine/Medical. a nail of a finger or toe.
black, especially jet black.
Origin of onyx
1250-1300; Middle English onix < Latin onyx < Greek ónyx nail, claw, veined gem Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for onyx
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • My brother Jean made me a present of an onyx of great beauty.

    The Memoires of Casanova, Complete Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
  • The huge reception hall was trimmed from floor to dome in onyx and gold.

    The Root of Evil

    Thomas Dixon
  • Then, and not till then, had any one time to turn a glance towards the onyx.

    The Three Midshipmen W.H.G. Kingston
  • Harrasford was credited with designs for a palace in onyx and marble.

    The Bill-Toppers Andre Castaigne
  • The pulpit is of carved stone with inlaid slabs of American onyx.

    The Kensington District Geraldine Edith Mitton
  • His stones are jet, onyx and all dark stones which are incapable of polish.

  • My mind is a confused jumble of onyx and gilding and 216 mosaic floors and palms.

    Daddy Long-Legs Jean Webster
British Dictionary definitions for onyx


a variety of chalcedony with alternating black and white parallel bands, used as a gemstone. Formula: SiO2
a compact variety of calcite used as an ornamental stone; onyx marble. Formula: CaCO3
Word Origin
C13: from Latin from Greek: fingernail (so called from its veined appearance)
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 onyx

mid-13c., from Old French oniche "onyx" (12c.), and directly from Latin onyx (genitive onychis), from Greek onyx "onyx-stone," originally "claw, fingernail" (see nail (n.)). So called because the mineral's color sometimes resembles that of a fingernail, pink with white streaks.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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onyx in Medicine

onyx on·yx (ŏn'ĭks)

  1. See unguis.

  2. A collection of pus in the anterior chamber of the eye.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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onyx in Science
A type of chalcedony that occurs in straight and parallel bands of different colors, often black and white.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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