Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A dense translucent, white or tinted fine-grained gypsum.
  • n. A variety of hard calcite, translucent and sometimes banded.
  • n. A pale yellowish pink to yellowish gray.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A fine-grained white or lightly-tinted variety of gypsum, used ornamentally.
  • n. A variety of calcite, translucent and sometimes banded.
  • adj. Made of alabaster
  • adj. Resembling alabaster: white, pale, translucent.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n.
  • n. A compact variety or sulphate of lime, or gypsum, of fine texture, and usually white and translucent, but sometimes yellow, red, or gray. It is carved into vases, mantel ornaments, etc.
  • n. A hard, compact variety of carbonate of lime, somewhat translucent, or of banded shades of color; stalagmite. The name is used in this sense by Pliny. It is sometimes distinguished as oriental alabaster.
  • n. A box or vessel for holding odoriferous ointments, etc.; -- so called from the stone of which it was originally made.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A box, casket, or vase made of alabaster. See alabastrum.
  • n. A marble-like mineral of which there are two well-known varieties, the gypseous and the calcareous.
  • Made of alabaster, or resembling it: as, “an alabaster column,” Addison, Travels in Italy.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a hard compact kind of calcite
  • n. a compact fine-textured, usually white gypsum used for carving
  • n. a very light white
  • adj. of or resembling alabaster

Etymologies

Middle English alabastre, from Old French, from Latin alabaster, from Greek alabastros, alabastos, possibly of Egyptian origin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French alabastre, from Latin alabaster ("box for perfume made of alabaster"), from Ancient Greek ἀλάβαστρος (alabastros), from earlier ἀλάβαστος (alabastos, "vase made of alabaster"). This may further derive from the ancient Egyptian word a-labaste (vessel of the Egyptian goddess Bast). (Wiktionary)

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  • America's cities were once described as "alabaster."

    June 10, 2009


  • Alabaster in the Bible
    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.

    Verses
    Matthew 26:7: There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat.

    Mark 14:3: And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.

    Luke 7:37: And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee's house, brought an alabaster box of ointment...

    October 22, 2007