Alabaster



a finely granular variety of gypsum, often white and translucent, used for ornamental objects or work, such as lamp bases, figurines, etc.
Also called Oriental alabaster. a variety of calcite, often banded, used or sold as alabaster.
made of alabaster:
an alabaster column.
resembling alabaster; smooth and white:
her alabaster throat.
Historical Examples

It was used in windows, though by no means exclusively, mica, alabaster and shells having been also employed.
Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 12, Slice 1 Various

The head of the magistrate was half hidden by the paper, his brow was like alabaster.
Lord Jim Joseph Conrad

We trust the alabaster lady has by now regained her property and with it her marmoreal calm.
Punch, or the London Charivari, Vol. 156, May 7, 1919. Various

A lovely figure, as white and almost as clear as alabaster, was lying on the bed.
At the Back of the North Wind George MacDonald

In the centre, and side by side, were two alabaster slabs, each about seven feet long by three in width.
Pharos, The Egyptian Guy Newell Boothby

Come and wash in the fountains that fall into the basins of crystal and alabaster.
The Wedding Ring T. De Witt Talmage

His pale blue eyes, thin lips and alabaster skin gave him a delicate look—one belied by his record.
First on the Moon Jeff Sutton

Tancred rushed to her side; she was quite insensible, and pale as alabaster.
Tancred Benjamin Disraeli

Mrs. Puffit put her lace upon the alabaster neck of the large doll which stood in the middle of her shop.
Tales And Novels, Volume 1 (of 10) Maria Edgeworth

I should be in the alabaster Hall, waiting till Charmion came forth.
Cleopatra H. Rider Haggard

noun
a fine-grained usually white, opaque, or translucent variety of gypsum used for statues, vases, etc
a variety of hard semitranslucent calcite, often banded like marble
adjective
of or resembling alabaster
n.

translucent whitish kind of gypsum used for vases, ornaments, and busts, late 14c., from Old French alabastre (12c., Modern French albâtre), from Latin alabaster “colored rock used to make boxes and vessels for unguents,” from Greek alabastros (earlier albatos) “vase for perfumes,” perhaps from Egyptian ‘a-labaste “vessel of the goddess Bast.” Used figuratively for whiteness and smoothness from 1570s. “The spelling in 16-17th c. is almost always alablaster …” [OED].

occurs only in the New Testament in connection with the box of “ointment of spikenard very precious,” with the contents of which a woman anointed the head of Jesus as he sat at supper in the house of Simon the leper (Matt. 26:7; Mark 14:3; Luke 7:37). These boxes were made from a stone found near Alabastron in Egypt, and from this circumstance the Greeks gave them the name of the city where they were made. The name was then given to the stone of which they were made; and finally to all perfume vessels, of whatever material they were formed. The woman “broke” the vessel; i.e., she broke off, as was usually done, the long and narrow neck so as to reach the contents. This stone resembles marble, but is softer in its texture, and hence very easily wrought into boxes. Mark says (14:5) that this box of ointment was worth more than 300 pence, i.e., denarii, each of the value of sevenpence halfpenny of our money, and therefore worth about 10 pounds. But if we take the denarius as the day’s wage of a labourer (Matt. 20:2), say two shillings of our money, then the whole would be worth about 30 pounds, so costly was Mary’s offering.

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