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"precious stone next in hardness to a diamond," mid-13c., from Old French saphir (12c.) and directly from Latin sapphirus (cf. Spanish zafir, Italian zaffiro), from Greek sappheiros "blue stone" (the gem meant apparently was not the one that now has the name, but perhaps rather "lapis lazuli," the modern sapphire being perhaps signified by Greek hyakinthos), from a Semitic source (cf. Hebrew sappir "sapphire"), but probably not ultimately from Semitic. Some linguists propose an origin in Sanskrit sanipriya, a dark precious stone (perhaps sapphire or emerald), literally "sacred to Saturn," from Sani "Saturn" + priyah "precious." In Renaissance lapidaries, it was said to cure anger and stupidity. As an adjective from early 15c. Related: Sapphiric; sapphirine.
A clear, fairly pure form of the mineral corundum that is usually blue but may be any color except red. It often contains small amounts of oxides of cobalt, chromium, and titanium and is valued as a gem. Compare ruby.
Associated with diamonds (Ex. 28:18) and emeralds (Ezek. 28:13); one of the stones in the high priest's breastplate. It is a precious stone of a sky-blue colour, probably the lapis lazuli, brought from Babylon. The throne of God is described as of the colour of a sapphire (Ex. 24:10; comp. Ezek. 1:26).