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

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a hard igneous rock consisting of large crystals in a fine-grained matrix

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. 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.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. 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.
  • n. A slab of porphyry, used in alchemy.
  • n. In zoology, a porphyry-moth.
  • n. In ceramics, a hard colored body made by Josiah Wedgwood, in imitation of porphyry.

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

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


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).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)


  • 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.


  • 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

  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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

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  • 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

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

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  • 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.

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  • If these parts of the composition be less distinct, or if only two of them be visible to the eye, it is termed porphyry, trap, whinstone, moorstone, slate.

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