Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A mineral of hydrated silica.
  • noun A gemstone made of this mineral, noted for its rich iridescence.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A mineral consisting of silica like quartz, but in a different condition, having a lower specific gravity and hardness and being without crystalline structure: it usually contains some water, mostly from 3 to 9 per cent. ; ; ; ; ; ; ;

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Min.) A mineral consisting, like quartz, of silica, but inferior to quartz in hardness and specific gravity.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun mineralogy A mineral consisting, like quartz, of silica, but inferior to quartz in hardness and specific gravity, of the chemical formula SiO2·nH2O.
  • noun biology , (genetics), (biochemistry) A colloquial name used in molecular biology referring to a particular stop codon sequence, "UGA."

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

  • noun a translucent mineral consisting of hydrated silica of variable color; some varieties are used as gemstones

Etymologies

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

[Middle English opalus, from Latin, alteration of Greek opallios, probably from Sanskrit upalaḥ, from variant of upara-, lower, from upa, below; see upo in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

In Florio’s A World of Words 1598 as opale, from French opale, from Latin opalus, from Byzantine Greek ὀπάλλιος (opallios), from Sanskrit उपल (upala, "gem”, “stone").

Examples

  • Although opal is not a conclusive indicator of a wetter Mars, it does suggest some interesting scenarios.

    Archive 2008-11-16

  • The most durable opal is a solid piece, free from fractures.

    Mexican fire opals

  • The most durable opal is a solid piece, free from fractures.

    Mexican fire opals

  • The very word opal comes from the Sanskrit upala, meaning “precious,” which I guess says it all!

    Zolar’s Magick Of Color

  • The very word opal comes from the Sanskrit upala, meaning “precious,” which I guess says it all!

    Zolar’s Magick Of Color

  • The very word opal comes from the Sanskrit upala, meaning “precious,” which I guess says it all!

    Zolar’s Magick Of Color

  • The very word opal comes from the Sanskrit upala, meaning “precious,” which I guess says it all!

    Zolar’s Magick Of Color

  • "The opal is oblong," the crystal-gazer continued,

    The Golden Apple Tree

  • The story of the king's opal is the one I know, and though it sounds exactly as though it had been made out of a dream, it is none the less interesting for that, anyone will admit; and this is the story:

    The Golden Apple Tree

  • The town is known as the opal capital of the world because 90% of the world's finest opals are mined there.

    Archive 2009-04-01

Comments

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  • Opal. The word itself was like a charm. You could stroke a word like opal. You could taste it. You could swallow it whole, raw and silky, like an oyster, and then Oyster could reel you in.

    --Janette Turner Hospital, 1996, Oyster

    November 11, 2007

  • a town in Wyoming, USA

    February 26, 2008

  • Love this word ;D 'tis my middle name as well

    July 11, 2008

  • Just as well you like it then :-) I did a bit of opal fossicking around Yowah. Fun. I'm easily impressed by shiny things.

    July 11, 2008

  • I'd like to go to Coober Pedy and go down one of the opal mines. Someday.

    July 11, 2008

  • I've been there! It was really cool! Well... actually quite hot. But cool!

    July 11, 2008

  • Stayed about 3 days there in an underground hotel. Certainly a novel experience.

    July 11, 2008