[ toor-muh-lin, -leen ]
/ ˈtʊər mə lɪn, -ˌlin /
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any of a group of silicate minerals of complex composition, containing boron, aluminum, etc., usually black but having various colored, transparent varieties used as gems.
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Also tour·ma·lin [toor-muh-lin], /ˈtʊər mə lɪn/, tur·ma·line [toor-muh-lin, -leen tur‐] /ˈtʊər mə lɪn, -ˌlin ˈtɜr‐/ .

Origin of tourmaline

1750–60; earlier tourmalin <German Turmalin, ultimately <Sinhalese tōramalliya “carnelian”; see -in2


tour·ma·lin·ic [toor-muh-lin-ik], /ˌtʊər məˈlɪn ɪk/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does tourmaline mean?

Tourmaline is a mineral that is commonly black but also has transparent, colored varieties considered gemstones, including in pink and green.

Tourmaline varies in composition and is typically categorized into three types: iron tourmaline (a black variety, also called schorl), magnesium tourmaline (a brown variety, also called dravite), and alkali tourmaline.

As a gemstone, tourmaline is classified as semiprecious, a label given to gemstones that are not as valuable as those considered precious. Tourmaline is generally inexpensive due to its abundance, but certain varieties are more expensive, such as those from Paraiba, Brazil, which are valued for their color saturation.

Tourmaline is one of the birthstones for the month of October. It is associated with the zodiac signs Libra and Scorpio. It is also the gem designated for an eighth wedding anniversary.

Tourmaline has the ability to become electrically charged when heated and is also used in electrical equipment.

Tourmaline can also be spelled tourmalin and turmaline.

Example: Many people mistake the red tourmaline stone in my ring for a ruby.

Where does tourmaline come from?

The first records of the word tourmaline come from the late 1700s. It ultimately comes from the Sinhalese word tōramalliya, meaning “carnelian” (another type of gemstone).

Tourmaline is a silicate mineral that occurs in igneous and metamorphic rocks, especially in pegmatites. They often grow in environments that are rich in liquids. There are many different elements that can appear in tourmaline that affect the color of the stone, including lithium, sodium, iron, and magnesium.

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What are some other forms related to tourmaline?

  • tourmalin (alternate spelling)
  • turmaline (alternate spelling)
  • tourmalinic (adjective)

What are some synonyms for tourmaline?

What are some words that often get used in discussing tourmaline?

How is tourmaline used in real life?

Tourmaline is perhaps best known as one of the birthstones for October.


Try using tourmaline!

True or False?

Tourmaline can be electrically charged.

How to use tourmaline in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for tourmaline

/ (ˈtʊəməˌliːn) /

any of a group of hard glassy minerals of variable colour consisting of complex borosilicates of aluminium with quantities of lithium, sodium, calcium, potassium, iron, and magnesium in hexagonal crystalline form: used in optical and electrical equipment and in jewellery

Derived forms of tourmaline

tourmalinic (ˌtʊəməˈlɪnɪk), adjective

Word Origin for tourmaline

C18: from German Turmalin, from Sinhalese toramalli carnelian
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

Scientific definitions for tourmaline

[ turmə-lĭn, -lēn′ ]

Any of several minerals having the general chemical formula (Na,Ca)(Mg,Fe,Al,Li)3Al6(BO3)3Si6O18(OH)4. Tourmaline occurs in many different translucent colors, usually in crystals shaped like 3-, 6-, or 9-sided prisms. It occurs in igneous and metamorphic rocks, especially in pegmatites.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.