Origin of asbestos
Examples from the Web for asbestus
It consisted of a tube, containing at one end a plug of asbestus, moistened with a solution of iodide of potassium and starch.
The Asbestus, a mineral substance of a whitish or silver color.
There was a city of the same name in Eubœa, expressed Carystus, where the stone Asbestus was found.
Stones also differ in their weight or gravity: for instance, some of the asbestus kind are lighter than water.
British Dictionary definitions for asbestus
- any of the fibrous amphibole and serpentine minerals, esp chrysotile and tremolite, that are incombustible and resistant to chemicals. It was formerly widely used in the form of fabric or board as a heat-resistant structural material
- (as modifier)asbestos matting
Word Origin for asbestos
Word Origin and History for asbestus
1650s, earlier albeston, abestus (c.1100), name of a fabulous stone, which, set afire, could not be extinguished; from Old French abeste, abestos, from Latin asbestos "quicklime" (which "burns" when cold water is poured on it), from Greek asbestos, literally "inextinguishable," from a- "not" (see a- (3)) + sbestos, verbal adjective from sbennynai "to quench," from PIE root *(s)gwes- "to quench, extinguish" (cf. Lithuanian gestu "to go out," Old Church Slavonic gaso, Hittite kishtari "is being put out").
The Greek word was used by Dioscorides as a noun meaning "quicklime." "Erroneously applied by Pliny to an incombustible fibre, which he believed to be vegetable, but which was really the amiantos of the Greeks" [OED]. Meaning "mineral capable of being woven into incombustible fabric" is from c.1600 in English; earlier this was called amiant (early 15c.), from Latin amiantus, from Greek amiantos, literally "undefiled" (so called because it showed no mark or stain when thrown into fire). Supposed in the Middle Ages to be salamanders' wool. Prester John, the Emperor of India, and Pope Alexander III were said to have had robes or tunics made of it.