alabaster

[al-uh-bas-ter, -bah-ster]
noun
1.
a finely granular variety of gypsum, often white and translucent, used for ornamental objects or work, such as lamp bases, figurines, etc.
2.
Also called Oriental alabaster. a variety of calcite, often banded, used or sold as alabaster.
adjective Also, alabastrine [al-uh-bas-trin] .
3.
made of alabaster: an alabaster column.
4.
resembling alabaster; smooth and white: her alabaster throat.

Origin:
1350–1400; < Latin < Greek alábastros; replacing Middle English alabastre < Middle French < Latin

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Collins
World English Dictionary
alabaster (ˈæləˌbɑːstə, -ˌbæstə)
 
n
1.  a fine-grained usually white, opaque, or translucent variety of gypsum used for statues, vases, etc
2.  a variety of hard semitranslucent calcite, often banded like marble
 
adj
3.  of or resembling alabaster
 
[C14: from Old French alabastre, from Latin alabaster, from Greek alabastros]
 
ala'bastrine
 
adj

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Etymonline
Word Origin & History

alabaster
a translucent whitish kind of gypsum used for vases, ornaments, and busts, late 14c., from O.Fr. alabastre, from L. alabaster "colored rock used to make boxes and vessels for unguents," from Gk. alabast(r)os "vase for perfumes," probably from Egypt. 'a-labaste "vessel of the goddess Bast." Used figuratively
for whiteness and smoothness from 1570s.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Easton
Bible Dictionary

Alabaster definition


occurs only in the New Testament in connection with the box of "ointment of spikenard very precious," with the contents of which a woman anointed the head of Jesus as he sat at supper in the house of Simon the leper (Matt. 26:7; Mark 14:3; Luke 7:37). These boxes were made from a stone found near Alabastron in Egypt, and from this circumstance the Greeks gave them the name of the city where they were made. The name was then given to the stone of which they were made; and finally to all perfume vessels, of whatever material they were formed. The woman "broke" the vessel; i.e., she broke off, as was usually done, the long and narrow neck so as to reach the contents. This stone resembles marble, but is softer in its texture, and hence very easily wrought into boxes. Mark says (14:5) that this box of ointment was worth more than 300 pence, i.e., denarii, each of the value of sevenpence halfpenny of our money, and therefore worth about 10 pounds. But if we take the denarius as the day's wage of a labourer (Matt. 20:2), say two shillings of our money, then the whole would be worth about 30 pounds, so costly was Mary's offering.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Example sentences
Even her alabaster skin, pale as ivory piano keys, looks sensitive.
Blood-red dahlias were obligingly photogenic in the pool of light thrown by an alabaster lamp.
Gypsum white satin spar and alabaster as thin lenses and veins in uppermost part.
Two multicolored ceramic plates, an alabaster vase with a hole in the base, and a stone knife also accompanied the body.
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