1 : a cutter, polisher, or engraver of precious stones usually other than diamonds
2 : the art of cutting gems
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.
Lapidary is more of a science than an art: the cutter needs to be aware of the physical properties of the material before fashioning it.
"Even before it was acquired by Harry Winston in 2013, the 101.73-carat gem … was described by Christie's as 'the most perfect diamond ever offered for sale at auction.' It took two years for lapidaries to cut the flawless pear-shaped stone, which has since been named the Winston Legacy." — Town & Country, October 2017
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Word Family Quiz
Fill in the blanks to complete a verb grounded in Latin lapis that means "to bring into a condition of decay or partial ruin": _ il _ p _ d _ _ e.VIEW THE ANSWER
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