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[em-uh-ree, em-ree] /ˈɛm ə ri, ˈɛm ri/
a granular mineral substance consisting typically of corundum mixed with magnetite or hematite, used powdered, crushed, or consolidated for grinding and polishing.
Origin of emery
1475-85; < Middle French emeri, Old French esmeril < Vulgar Latin *smēriculum, equivalent to Medieval Greek smêri (for Greek smýris rubbing powder; akin to smear) + Latin -culum -cule2


[em-uh-ree, em-ree] /ˈɛm ə ri, ˈɛm ri/
a male or female given name. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for emery
Historical Examples
  • Judge emery rose and buttoned his coat about his spare figure.

    The Squirrel-Cage Dorothy Canfield
  • I wonder if Snyder could have put that emery into the oil-cup himself?

    Cab and Caboose Kirk Munroe
  • The glass is ground with emery to the correct spherical figure as given by a spherometer.

    On Laboratory Arts Richard Threlfall
  • At least Uncle emery had something to tell you, and I asked him to let me do it.

  • The emery cloth is wrapped around the file and the same motion is continued.

    Farm Mechanics Herbert A. Shearer
  • A finisher can always alter the thickness of a gouge with emery paper.

  • "Just so," resumed emery quietly after de Marmont's violent storm of wrath had subsided.

    The Bronze Eagle Emmuska Orczy, Baroness Orczy
  • Judge emery broke in, impatient of this fantastic word-bandying.

    The Squirrel-Cage Dorothy Canfield
  • Or, apply turpentine or kerosene, and after allowing to stand over night, clean with emery cloth.

  • Judge emery clapped him on the shoulder with a rough friendliness.

    The Squirrel-Cage Dorothy Canfield
British Dictionary definitions for emery


  1. a hard greyish-black mineral consisting of corundum with either magnetite or haematite: used as an abrasive and polishing agent, esp as a coating on paper, cloth, etc. Formula: Al2O3
  2. (as modifier): emery paper
Word Origin
C15: from Old French esmeril, ultimately from Greek smuris powder for rubbing
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
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Word Origin and History for emery

"granular mixture used as an abrasive," late 15c., from Middle French émeri, from Old French esmeril, from Italian smeriglo, from Vulgar Latin *smyrilium, from Greek smyris "abrasive powder" used for rubbing and polishing, probably a non-Greek word, perhaps from a Semitic source.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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