lap·​i·​dary | \ ˈla-pə-ˌder-ē How to pronounce lapidary (audio) \
plural lapidaries

Definition of lapidary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a cutter, polisher, or engraver of precious stones usually other than diamonds
2 : the art of cutting gems



Definition of lapidary (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : having the elegance and precision associated with inscriptions on monumental stone a stanza that has a lapidary dignity
2a : sculptured in or engraved on stone
b : of, relating to, or suggestive of precious stones or the art of cutting them

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Did You Know?


The Latin word for "stone" is lapis; in that language, something "of or relating to stone" is described as lapidarius. Gem cutters obviously relate well to stone, and during the 14th century someone decided that lapidarius should be related to them. The spelling of the term was modified, and it was borrowed into English as a name for both gem cutters and their art. Since the 1700s, lapidary has also been used as an adjective describing things having the elegance and precision of inscriptions carved on stone monuments or things relating to the art of gem cutting.

Examples of lapidary in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Perfume is an accessory as elevating and as personal as a piece of jewelry, and perhaps no one knows this better than Cartier perfumer Mathilde Laurent, who crafts every scent with the meticulous care of a lapidary. April Long, Town & Country, "Are These The Ultimate Holiday Party Fragrances?," 27 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective His literary criticism is sometimes classic and even lapidary, as in his famous 1912 introduction to Dickens’s novel Hard Times. M. D. Aeschliman, National Review, "G. K. Chesterton and George Bernard Shaw: An Ambivalent Literary Relationship," 5 Dec. 2020 These form a timeline of events from 1619 to 1865, and the entries are appropriately lapidary. Michael J. Lewis, WSJ, "Building Up Their Memory," 14 Oct. 2020 His books, most written in the first person, are lapidary, intricate, Nabokovian. Charles Mcgrath, New York Times, "With His New Mystery Novel, John Banville Kills Off a Pen Name," 1 Oct. 2020 Judy’s lapidary construction is a setting for Renée Zellweger’s performance, which attempts a precarious tribute. Armond White, National Review, "Renée Zellweger’s Bio-Pic Judy Is Compassionate and Honest," 27 Sep. 2019 Kunberger-Striepe started lapidary classes to expand her jewelry skill set and started Lapidify shortly afterward. Vanessa Infanzon, charlotteobserver, "CLT Made: Lapidify," 12 Mar. 2018 In both areas, not surprisingly, McEwan's brilliant, lapidary style carries the day. Kenneth Turan,, "Saoirse Ronan and Ian McEwan reunite for tragic romance 'On Chesil Beach'," 17 May 2018 Holly Zewalk, an active club member, said the club's mission is to create for members and visitors opportunities to appreciate, learn and develop skills in lapidary and related sciences and arts. Carol Kovach,, "Barton Senior Center benefit is a Caribbean cocktail party: A Place in the Sun," 15 May 2018 Every character is memorable, every sentence unostentatiously lapidary. Terry Teachout, WSJ, "‘The Great Gatsby’ Review: The Letter, Not the Spirit," 22 Feb. 2017

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

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First Known Use of lapidary


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1724, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for lapidary


Latin lapidarius of stone, from lapid-, lapis stone

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Time Traveler for lapidary

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The first known use of lapidary was in the 14th century

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Cite this Entry

“Lapidary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Mar. 2021.

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