\ ˈō-pəl How to pronounce opal (audio) \

Definition of opal

: a usually amorphous mineral that is a hydrated silica softer and less dense than quartz and typically with definite and often marked iridescent play of colors and is used especially as a gem

Examples of opal in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Cloaked in white dust and surrounded by expansive plains, the town of Lightning Ridge produces the bulk of the world’s precious black opal. Clare Watson, Smithsonian, "Scientists and Miners Team Up to Preserve Opalized Fossils," 1 Aug. 2019 And for more than 100 years, people have come to the Ridge to find their fortune chasing precious opal. Clare Watson, Smithsonian, "Scientists and Miners Team Up to Preserve Opalized Fossils," 1 Aug. 2019 Thankfully, Bob Foster's curiosity kept him from smashing the rock containing the dinosaur bone to separate it from the opal embedded within. Daisy Hernandez, Popular Mechanics, "Opal Miner Unearths New Species of Dinosaur," 5 June 2019 Foster had been mining opal for decades in Lightning Ridge, a town in New South Wales, Australia, where fossils are abundant. Daisy Hernandez, Popular Mechanics, "Opal Miner Unearths New Species of Dinosaur," 5 June 2019 Other gemstones, like moonstones or opals, are stunning—and highly recommended on a tighter budget. Colleen Banks, Harper's BAZAAR, "How Much to Spend—and Where to Save—When Shopping for an Engagement Ring," 12 June 2019 Lightning Ridge is famous for yielding fossils hewn from often brightly colored opal, a gemstone that forms over long periods from the concentration of silica-rich solutions underground. John Pickrell, National Geographic, "Exclusive: Gem-like fossils reveal stunning new dinosaur species," 3 June 2019 Opal can be just about any color in the visible spectrum and most of the world's opal is mined from the Australian outback, according to the Australian Opal Centre. Ashley Strickland, CNN, "Dinosaur bones shimmering with opal reveal a new species," 4 June 2019 This no-soak treatment also works well for turquoise and opals (which are also porous stones). Lauren Smith, Good Housekeeping, "How to Clean Your Jewelry Like a Pro," 7 May 2019

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

circa 1586, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for opal

Latin opalus, from Greek opallios, ultimately from Sanskrit upala stone, jewel

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Dictionary Entries near opal





opal blue



Statistics for opal

Last Updated

19 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for opal

The first known use of opal was circa 1586

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More Definitions for opal



English Language Learners Definition of opal

: a white or clear stone that reflects changing colors and that is used in jewelry


\ ˈō-pəl How to pronounce opal (audio) \

Kids Definition of opal

: a mineral with soft changeable colors that is used as a gem

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More from Merriam-Webster on opal

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with opal

Spanish Central: Translation of opal

Nglish: Translation of opal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about opal

Comments on opal

What made you want to look up opal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


formidable, illustrious, or eminent

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