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

  • noun Rock containing relatively large conspicuous crystals, especially feldspar, in a fine-grained igneous matrix.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In ceramics, a hard colored body made by Josiah Wedgwood, in imitation of porphyry.
  • noun The English form of the Latin word porphyrites, used by the Romans to designate a certain rock having a dark-crimson ground through which are scattered small crystals of feldspar.
  • noun A slab of porphyry, used in alchemy.
  • noun In zoology, a porphyry-moth.

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

  • noun (Geol.) A term used somewhat loosely to designate a rock consisting of a fine-grained base (usually feldspathic) through which crystals, as of feldspar or quartz, are disseminated. There are red, purple, and green varieties, which are highly esteemed as marbles.
  • noun (Zoöl.) a handsome marine gastropod shell (Oliva porphyria), having a dark red or brown polished surface, marked with light spots, like porphyry.

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

  • noun geology a hard igneous rock consisting of large crystals in a fine-grained matrix

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

  • noun any igneous rock with crystals embedded in a finer groundmass of minerals


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

[Middle English porphiri, porfurie, from Old French porfire, from Italian porfiro, from Medieval Latin porphyrium, from Latin porphyrītēs, from Greek porphurītēs, from porphurā, shellfish yielding purple dye, purple (from its color).]


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  • Rhenium is obtained almost exclusively as a by-product of the processing of a special type of copper deposit known as a porphyry copper deposit.

    Rhenium 2008

  • When the Pope leads Mass at the newly complete altar - made, as part of Bonet's design, from a purplish stone called porphyry - 6,500 faithful, including 1,000 priests, will pray with him.

    Yahoo! News: Business - Opinion 2010

  • When the Pope leads Mass at the newly complete altar - made, as part of Bonet's design, from a purplish stone called porphyry - 6,500 faithful, including 1,000 priests, will pray with him. Top Stories 2010

  • The so-called porphyry copper mines, which now produce more than half the world's copper, are worth looking at in the context of exploitation limits.

    Limits to Exploitation of Nonrenewable Resources (historical) Earl Cook 2007

  • Throughout the week, unusually large amounts of crustae (marble revetment slabs) have been found that are mainly composed of green-white cipollino from Euboia, purple veined pavonazetto marble from Dokimeion, white marble, and even some small pieces of red porphyry, which is a type of igneous rock.

    Interactive Dig Sagalassos - Roman Baths Report 6 2003

  • There was also a very hard variety of granite much used by sculptors called porphyry, a very hard and variegated rock of a mixed purple-and-white colour.

    From John O'Groats to Land's End Robert Naylor

  • The principal measured reserves are in the so-called porphyry coppers of the United States and Chile.

    The Economic Aspect of Geology 1915

  • Between every tower, in the midst of the said body of building, there was a winding stair, whereof the steps were part of porphyry, which is a dark-red marble spotted with white, part of

    The Best of the World's Classics, Restricted to Prose, Vol. VII (of X)—Continental Europe I Various 1885

  • The porphyry, which is of warm brown or chocolate colour, includes many crystals of lighter coloured felspar, and dark crystals of hornblende.

    Gold, Sport, and Coffee Planting in Mysore 1875

  • The great calendar-stone, which in 1790 was disinterred in the city of Mexico, was nicely wrought out of a block of dark porphyry, that is estimated to have weighed fifty tons, and must have been transported several leagues; for the nearest point where porphyry of that character is found is upon the shores of Lake Chalco, many miles distant from the city of Mexico.

    Ancient Mining on the Shores of Lake Superior 1865


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  • "On the site where Saint Peter's Basilica now stands, then occupied by an older church built by Constantine and his mother, Helena, the emperor donated a small tonnage of sacred equipment: gold, bronze, and porphyry, candelabra and gifts from the Eastern Church consisting of 225 pounds of balsam, 800 pounds of oil of nard, 650 pounds of unspecified aromatics, 50 corn measures of pepper, 50 pounds of cloves, 100 pounds of saffron, and 100 pounds of fine linen... In total, the emperor donated a staggering 150 pounds of cloves to various churches.... Either way these spices were evidently Church equipment; they were not there to be eaten, no more than the candelabras or censers with which they are grouped. To all appearances we are very close here to customs excoriated by earlier writers, not far from the cinnamon stored in a golden dish in a pagan temple on the Palatine or the dedication of cinnamon to Apollo at Miletus by King Seleucus. A little over one hundred years after Tertullian had railed against the sweet, demon-attracting bait, and within living memory of a time when martyrs had chosen death ahead of burning incense, God had reacquired his nostrils. Who had converted whom?"

    --Jack Turner, _Spice: The History of a Temptation_ (NY: Alfred A. Knopf, 2004), 250

    December 6, 2016