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agate

[ag-it]
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noun
  1. a variegated chalcedony showing curved, colored bands or other markings.
  2. a playing marble made of this substance, or of glass in imitation of it.
  3. Printing. a 5½-point type of a size between pearl and nonpareil.Compare ruby(def 6).
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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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for agate

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • His child-like face, with the soft, agate eyes, expressed only bewilderment.

    The Martian Cabal

    Roman Frederick Starzl

  • Some of the bracelets are furnished with studs set with agate or coral.

  • The cup in which it spins is made of agate flint, or other hard substance.

    The Sailor's Word-Book

    William Henry Smyth

  • And this some seers have professed to be the virtue of a stone of agate.

    Zanoni

    Edward Bulwer Lytton

  • Suddenly all is light and life and flight, Upon the sandy bottom, agate strewn.

    Silverpoints

    John Gray


British Dictionary definitions for agate

agate1

noun
  1. 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
  2. a playing marble of this quartz or resembling it
  3. Also called: ruby printing, US and Canadian (formerly) a size of printer's type approximately equal to 5 1/2 point
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Word Origin

C16: via French from Latin achātēs, from Greek akhatēs

agate2

adverb
  1. Northern English dialect on the way
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Word Origin

C16: a-² + gate³

Agate

noun
  1. 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)
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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

n.

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).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

agate in Science

agate

[ăgĭt]
  1. 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.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.