[ ag-it ]
/ ˈæg ɪt /


a variegated chalcedony showing curved, colored bands or other markings.
a playing marble made of this substance, or of glass in imitation of it.
Printing. a 5½-point type of a size between pearl and nonpareil.Compare ruby(def 6).


Nearby words

  1. agassiz, louis,
  2. agastric,
  3. agastrophus,
  4. agastya,
  5. agata,
  6. agate line,
  7. agateware,
  8. agatha,
  9. agathism,
  10. agathist

Origin of agate

1150–1200; Middle English ac(c)ate, achate, agaten (compare Dutch agaat, Old Saxon agāt, Old High German agat), apparently < Old French agathe or Italian agata (initial stress) ≪ Medieval Latin achātēs < Greek achā́tēs

Related formsag·ate·like, ag·a·toid, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for agate

British Dictionary definitions for agate


/ (ˈæɡɪt) /


an impure microcrystalline form of quartz consisting of a variegated, usually banded chalcedony, used as a gemstone and in making pestles and mortars, burnishers, and polishers. Formula: SiO 2
a playing marble of this quartz or resembling it
Also called: ruby printing, US and Canadian (formerly) a size of printer's type approximately equal to 5 1/2 point

Word Origin for agate

C16: via French from Latin achātēs, from Greek akhatēs


Northern English dialect on the way

Word Origin for agate

C16: a-² + gate³


/ (ˈæɡeɪt) /


James (Evershed). 1877–1947, British theatre critic; drama critic for The Sunday Times (1923–47) and author of a nine-volume diary Ego (1935–49)
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 agate



1560s, from Middle French agathe (16c.), from Latin achates, from Greek akhates, the name of a river in Sicily where the stones were found (Pliny). But the river could as easily be named for the stone.

The earlier English form of the word, achate (early 13c.), was directly from Latin. Figurative sense of "a diminutive person" (c.1600) is from the now-obsolete meaning "small figures cut in agates for seals," preserved in typographer's agate (1838), the U.S. name of the 5.5-point font called in Great Britain ruby. Meaning "toy marble made of glass resembling agate" is from 1843 (colloquially called an aggie).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Science definitions for agate


[ ăgĭt ]

A type of very fine-grained quartz found in various colors that are arranged in bands or in cloudy patterns. The bands form when water rich with silica enters empty spaces in rock, after which the silica comes out of solution and forms crystals, gradually filling the spaces from the outside inward. The different colors are the result of various impurities in the water.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.