ob·​sid·​i·​an | \ əb-ˈsi-dē-ən How to pronounce obsidian (audio) \

Definition of obsidian

: a dark natural glass formed by the cooling of molten lava

Examples of obsidian in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Fensterstock’s obsidian-encrusted piece speaks to both the wonder and the folly of human efforts to reckon our place in the cosmos. Ryan P. Smith, Smithsonian Magazine, "Where Nature and Artifice Collide," 4 Nov. 2020 Early humans sourced black obsidian for projectile points from at least 50 miles away. Brian Handwerk, Smithsonian Magazine, "To Adapt to a Changing Environment 400,000 Years Ago, Early Humans Developed New Tools and Behaviors," 21 Oct. 2020 Blegen is not yet convinced that the obsidian at Olorgesailie is evidence of trade networks. Michael Price, Science | AAAS, "How climate disruptions revolutionized ancient human toolmaking," 21 Oct. 2020 Blades chipped from cryptocrystalline, rocks such as chert and obsidian, are extremely sharp. Keith Mccafferty, Field & Stream, "How to Make Primitive Survival Weapons in the Bush," 24 Apr. 2020 His efforts have already turned up ancient pottery shards and chunks of obsidian. Sarah Medford, WSJ, "The Idiosyncratic Work of Sculptor Alma Allen," 15 Jan. 2020 For mysterious reasons, one looks like obsidian, giving a town that grew up around it its name: Black Spire Outpost. Wired, "A Journey to Galaxy's Edge, the Nerdiest Place on Earth," 18 Nov. 2019 Forget about a polite sear; the beef comes out shining like polished obsidian. Nick Kindelsperger, chicagotribune.com, "The 20 best burgers in Chicago’s suburbs — where giant patties may reign, but don’t win," 18 Sep. 2019 The prized obsidian came from the Hasan Daği volcano, some 80 miles away or the Cappadocia region farther to the east. National Geographic, "This Stone Age settlement took humanity's first steps toward city life," 26 Mar. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'obsidian.' 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 obsidian

1794, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for obsidian

New Latin obsidianus, from Latin obsidianus lapis, false manuscript reading for obsianus lapis, literally, stone of Obsius, from Obsius, its supposed discoverer

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Time Traveler for obsidian

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The first known use of obsidian was in 1794

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Cite this Entry

“Obsidian.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/obsidian. Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for obsidian


How to pronounce obsidian (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of obsidian

: a dark natural glass that forms when lava cools


ob·​sid·​i·​an | \ əb-ˈsi-dē-ən How to pronounce obsidian (audio) \

Kids Definition of obsidian

: a smooth dark rock formed by the cooling of lava

More from Merriam-Webster on obsidian

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about obsidian

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