[sey-buh l]

noun, plural sa·bles, (especially collectively for 1, 2) sa·ble.


Origin of sable

1275–1325; Middle English < Old French < Middle Low German sabel (compare late Old High German zobel) < Slavic or Baltic; compare Russian sóbol', Lithuanian sàbalas; ulterior origin obscure


[sey-buh l]


Cape, a cape on a small island at the SW tip of Nova Scotia, Canada: lighthouse.
Cape, a cape at the S tip of Florida. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sable

Contemporary Examples of sable

Historical Examples of sable

  • Knock at the door, whence the sable line of the funeral is next to issue!

    Main Street

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • She held out the sable and Vernon laid it on the couch when he had held it to his face for a moment.

  • I saw her sable skirts all fringed with light From the celestial walls!

  • All this flashed into his sight, etched against the sable night as if in flame.

    Raiders Invisible

    Desmond Winter Hall

  • A sable cloud floated in the sky, and at its back the moon sailed.

    A Son of Hagar

    Sir Hall Caine

British Dictionary definitions for sable


noun plural -bles or -ble

a marten, Martes zibellina, of N Asian forests, with dark brown luxuriant furRelated adjective: zibeline
  1. the highly valued fur of this animal
  2. (as modifier)a sable coat
American sable the brown, slightly less valuable fur of the American marten, Martes americana
the colour of sable fur: a dark brown to yellowish-brown colour


of the colour of sable fur
black; dark; gloomy
(usually postpositive) heraldry of the colour black

Word Origin for sable

C15: from Old French, from Old High German zobel, of Slavic origin; related to Russian sobol', Polish sobol


noun Cape Sable

a cape at the S tip of Florida: the southernmost point of continental US
the southernmost point of Nova Scotia, Canada
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 sable

"fur or pelt of the European sable" (Martes zibellina), early 15c., from Middle French sable (also martre sable "sable martin"), in reference to the mammal or its fur, borrowed in Old French from Germanic (cf. Middle Dutch sabel, Middle Low German sabel, Middle High German zobel), ultimately from a Slavic source (cf. Russian, Czech sobol, Polish soból, the name of the animal), "which itself is borrowed from an East-Asiatic language" [Klein], but Russian sources (e.g. Vasmer) find none of the proposed candidates satisfactory.


"black" as a heraldic color, early 14c., commonly identified with sable (n.1), but the animal's fur is brown and this may be a different word of unknown origin; or it might reflect a medieval custom (unattested) of dyeing sable fur black. As an adjective from late 14c. Emblematic of mourning or grief from c.1600; c.1800 as "black" with reference to Africans and their descendants, often with mock dignity.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper