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lapidary

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noun lap·i·dary \ ˈla-pə-ˌder-ē \

Definition of lapidary

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

lapidary was our Word of the Day on 03/06/2011. Hear the podcast!

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.

First Known Use of lapidary

14th century

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2

lapidary

adjective

Definition of lapidary

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

Recent Examples of lapidary from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of lapidary

Latin lapidarius of stone, from lapid-, lapis stone

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