lapis lazuli

[ lap-is laz-oo-lee, -lahy, laz-yoo-, lazh-oo- ]
/ ˈlæp ɪs ˈlæz ʊ li, -ˌlaɪ, ˈlæz yʊ-, ˈlæʒ ʊ- /
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a deep-blue mineral composed mainly of lazurite with smaller quantities of other minerals, used mainly as a gem or as a pigment.
a sky-blue color; azure.
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Also called lapis, laz·u·li [laz-uh-lee, -lahy, lazh-uh-] /ˈlæz ə li, -ˌlaɪ, ˈlæʒ ə-/ .

Origin of lapis lazuli

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English, from Medieval Latin, equivalent to Latin lapis “stone” + Medieval Latin lazulī, genitive of lazulum “lapis lazuli”; see azure
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does lapis lazuli mean?

Lapis lazuli is an opaque, deep-blue mineral used as a gemstone. It’s sometimes referred to as simply lapis.

It is categorized as a semiprecious stone, which is a classification used for stones considered to have a lower value than those deemed precious.

Lapis lazuli is the one of birthstones for the month of December. It is also sometimes considered a birthstone for the month of September. It is associated with the zodiac signs Sagitarrius and Capricorn.

Along with being used in jewelry, lapis lazuli can be ground and used as a pigment, such as for painting or decorating other materials. Powdered lapis lazuli used for pigment is often known as ultramarine.

The term lapis lazuli is also sometimes used to refer to a deep-blue color (like that of the stone).

Example: The exhibit featured an exquisite artifact sculpted from lapis lazuli.

Where does lapis lazuli come from?

The first records of the term lapis lazuli in English come from the 1300s. It is derived from the Latin lapis, meaning “stone,” and lazulī, which is of obscure origin (the word azure shares the same root).

Lapis lazuli frequently forms in crystalline limestone. Its composition can vary, but it is primarily composed of the mineral lazurite, which gives it its deep-blue color.

Lapis lazuli has a very long history of being highly prized for its intense coloring. It was traditionally mined in what is now Afghanistan and widely traded through ancient Egypt, China, Greece, and Rome. Many ancient artifacts feature lapis lazuli, including necklaces, beads, and other ornaments. During the Middle Ages, powdered lapis lazuli was a very valuable pigment.

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What are some synonyms for lapis lazuli?

  • lapis (when referring to the stone)
  • azure (when referring to the color)

What are some words that share a root or word element with lapis lazuli

What are some words that often get used in discussing lapis lazuli?

How is lapis lazuli used in real life?

Lapis lazuli is known for its rich blue color and its use in jewelry.



Try using lapis lazuli!

True or False? 

Powdered lapis lazuli that’s used for pigment is called ultramarine.

How to use lapis lazuli in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for lapis lazuli

lapis lazuli


/ (ˈlæpɪs) /

a brilliant blue variety of the mineral lazurite, used as a gemstone
the deep blue colour of lapis lazuli
Also: lapis

Word Origin for lapis lazuli

C14: from Latin lapis stone + Medieval Latin lazulī, from lazulum, from Arabic lāzaward, from Persian lāzhuward, of obscure origin
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