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soapstone

[sohp-stohn]
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noun
  1. a massive variety of talc with a soapy or greasy feel, used for hearths, washtubs, tabletops, carved ornaments, etc.
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Origin of soapstone

First recorded in 1675–85; soap + stone
Also called steatite.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for soapstone

Historical Examples

  • Popularly the terms talc and soapstone are often used synonymously.

    The Economic Aspect of Geology

    C. K. Leith

  • The pot above it, suspended from the roof, was also made of soapstone.

    The Giant of the North

    R.M. Ballantyne

  • It is made of soapstone and has a hole in each corner for the string.

  • The blue rocks are hollowed like soapstone by the rush of the water.

    From Sea to Sea

    Rudyard Kipling

  • One could tell by the soapstone lamps in the huts that famine was near.

    The Second Jungle Book

    Rudyard Kipling


British Dictionary definitions for soapstone

soapstone

noun
  1. a massive compact soft variety of talc, used for making tabletops, hearths, ornaments, etcAlso called: steatite
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Word Origin

C17: so called because it has a greasy feel and was sometimes used as soap
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 soapstone

n.

type of talc, 1680s, from soap (n.) + stone (n.). So called because it is occasionally used for cleaning.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

soapstone in Science

soapstone

[sōpstōn′]
  1. A soft metamorphic rock composed mostly of the mineral talc, but also including chlorite, pyroxene, and amphibole. It has a schistose texture and is greasy to the touch. Soapstone forms through the alteration of ferromagnesian silicate minerals during metamorphism.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.