noun, plural por·phy·ries.

a very hard rock, anciently quarried in Egypt, having a dark, purplish-red groundmass containing small crystals of feldspar.
Petrology. any igneous rock containing coarse crystals, as phenocrysts, in a finer-grained groundmass.

Origin of porphyry

1350–1400; Middle English porfurie, porfirie < Medieval Latin porphyreum, alteration of Latin porphyrītēs < Greek porphyrī́tēs porphyry, short for porphyrī́tēs líthos porphyritic (i.e., purplish) stone, equivalent to pórphyr(os) purple + -ītēs; see -ite1




Malchus, a.d. c233–c304, Greek philosopher.
Related formsPor·phyr·e·an [pawr-feer-ee-uh n] /pɔrˈfɪər i ən/, adjectivePor·phyr·i·an, adjective, nounPor·phyr·i·an·ist, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for porphyry

Historical Examples of porphyry

  • I was certain that she must have read Iamblichus and Porphyry.


    James Huneker

  • This is commonly illustrated by the ancient tree of Porphyry.

    The Classification of Patents

    United States Patent Office

  • In the distance a curtain of porphyry and bisque drew its shadow across the moon.

    Erik Dorn

    Ben Hecht

  • White graves or black, linen or porphyry, Are all one to me.


    Arthur Ficke

  • Five others were seated on boxes about a boulder that looked like porphyry outcrop.

    Rimrock Trail

    J. Allan Dunn

British Dictionary definitions for porphyry


noun plural -ries

any igneous rock with large crystals embedded in a finer groundmass of minerals
obsolete a reddish-purple rock consisting of large crystals of feldspar in a finer groundmass of feldspar, hornblende, etc

Word Origin for porphyry

C14 porfurie, from Late Latin porphyrītēs, from Greek porphuritēs (lithos) purple (stone), from porphuros purple



original name Malchus. 232–305 ad, Greek Neo-Platonist philosopher, born in Syria; disciple and biographer of Plotinus
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 porphyry

type of ornamental stone, late 14c., porfurie, from Old French porfire, from Italian porfiro and in some cases directly from Latin porphyrites, a purple semi-precious stone quarried near the Red Sea in Egypt, from Greek porphyrites (lithos) "the purple (stone)," from porphyra (n.) "purple, purple dye" (see purple). Spelling Latinized mid-15c. Now used generally for a type of igneous rock without regard to color. Porphyrios was an ancient proper name.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

porphyry in Science



An igneous rock containing the large crystals known as phenocrysts embedded in a fine-grained matrix.
Related formsporphyritic adjective (pôr′fə-rĭtĭk)
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.