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[meer-shuh m, -shawm] /ˈmɪər ʃəm, -ʃɔm/
a mineral, hydrous magnesium silicate, H 4 Mg 2 Si 3 O 1 0 , occurring in white, claylike masses, used for ornamental carvings, for pipe bowls, etc.; sepiolite.
a tobacco pipe with a bowl made of this substance.
Origin of meerschaum
1775-85; < German Meerschaum, equivalent to Meer sea (see mere2) + Schaum foam Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for meerschaum
Historical Examples
  • He is clad in a light-gray suit of tweed, and has in his mouth a meerschaum pipe of the very latest design.

    Airy Fairy Lilian Margaret Wolfe Hamilton (AKA Duchess)
  • The little fat host moved the hand that held the meerschaum.

    The Island Pharisees John Galsworthy
  • For I have no doubt that the missing bicycle will be found installed beside the meerschaum pipe in Simon Rabofsky's back room.

    The Incendiary W. A. (William Augustine) Leahy
  • He blinked twice, and put the meerschaum back between his lips.

    The Island Pharisees John Galsworthy
  • He is smoking a meerschaum pipe, which at short intervals he removes from his mouth to give place to the drinking glass.

    Gwen Wynn Mayne Reid
  • The meerschaum is good for flowers, I fancy, so have no scruple.

    Ernest Maltravers, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • "It is all better as it is," growled out an old captain, between the puffs of his meerschaum.

  • Then he leaned back determinedly and lighted his meerschaum.

    The Rogue Elephant Elliott Whitney
  • Captain Becker removed his meerschaum from his lips, and shook himself in his chair until his sword clanked on the floor.

    The River of Darkness William Murray Graydon
  • A meerschaum or a wooden pipe is then allowable, but never a clay or a dudeen.

    The Complete Bachelor Walter Germain
British Dictionary definitions for meerschaum


Also called sepiolite. a white, yellowish, or pink compact earthy mineral consisting of hydrated magnesium silicate: used to make tobacco pipes and as a building stone. Formula: Mg2Si3O6(OH)4
a tobacco pipe having a bowl made of this mineral
Word Origin
C18: German, literally: sea foam
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 meerschaum

type of soft white clay, 1784; from 1789 as "tobacco pipe with a bowl made of meerschaum clay," from German Meerschaum, literally "sea-foam," so called from its frothy appearance; from Old High German mari "sea" (see mere (n.)) + scum "scum" (see skim (v.)). A loan-translation of Latin spuma maris, itself said to be a loan translation of Greek halos akhne, from Persian kaf-i-darya.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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