desert varnish


: a dark coating which is found on rocks after long exposure in desert regions and whose color is due to iron and manganese oxides

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Even these days, she’s known to take off on a whim to explore Red Rocks or Canyonlands National Park, hiking along streams and exploring the ruins built into canyon walls where the desert varnish has darkened the pictographs. The Salt Lake Tribune, 18 Nov. 2020 Will the Arches social media team continue to be able to post about bighorn sheep, desert varnish and other fascinating features of the park? Julie Jag, The Salt Lake Tribune, 15 Aug. 2022 But there are advancements being made that may allow scientists to determine dates by analyzing the desert varnish on rocks. San Diego Union-Tribune, 9 Jan. 2022

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'desert varnish.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1898, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of desert varnish was circa 1898

Dictionary Entries Near desert varnish

Cite this Entry

“Desert varnish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Mar. 2023.

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