[mahr-buh l] /ˈmɑr bəl/

metamorphosed limestone, consisting chiefly of recrystallized calcite or dolomite, capable of taking a high polish, occurring in a wide range of colors and variegations and used in sculpture and architecture.
any variety of this stone:
Carrara marble.
an object made of or carved from this stone, especially a sculpture:
Renaissance marbles.
a piece of this stone:
the fallen marbles of Roman ruins.
(not in technical use) any of various breccias or other stones that take a high polish and show a variegated pattern.
a marbled appearance or pattern; :
The woodwork had a greenish marble.
anything resembling marble in hardness, coldness, smoothness, etc.:
a brow of marble.
something lacking in warmth or feeling.
a little ball made of stone, baked clay, glass, porcelain, agate, or steel, especially for use in games.
marbles, (used with a singular verb) a game for children in which a marble is propelled by the thumb to hit another marble so as to drive it out of a circle drawn or scratched on the ground.
marbles, Slang. normal rational faculties; sanity; wits; common sense:
to have all one’s marbles; to lose one’s marbles.
consisting or made of marble.
like marble, as in hardness, coldness, smoothness, etc.
lacking in warmth, compassion, or sympathy:
marble heart.
of variegated or mottled color.
verb (used with object), marbled, marbling.
to color or stain like variegated marble.
to apply a decorative pattern to (paper, the edges of a book, etc.) by transferring oil pigments floating on water.
(functioning as sing) a game in which marbles are rolled at one another, similar to bowls
(functioning as pl) (informal) wits: to lose one’s marbles

a block or work of art of marble
a small round glass or stone ball used in playing marbles
(Austral & NZ, informal) make one’s marble good, to succeed or do the right thing
(Austral, informal) pass in one’s marble, to die
(transitive) to mottle with variegated streaks in imitation of marble
cold, hard, or unresponsive
white like some kinds of marble

children’s game, from plural of marble (n.); first recorded by that name in 1709 but probably older (it was known in 13c. German as tribekugeln) and originally played with small balls of polished marble or alabaster, later clay; the modern glass ones with the colored swirl date from 1840s.

Meaning “mental faculties, common sense” is from 1927, American English slang, perhaps [OED] from earlier slang marbles “furniture, personal effects, ‘the goods’ ” (1864, Hotten), a corrupt translation of French meubles (plural) “furniture” (see furniture).

type of stone much used in sculpture, monuments, etc., early 14c., by dissimilation from marbra (mid-12c.), from Old French marbre (which itself underwent dissimilation of 2nd -r- to -l- in 14c.; marbre persisted in English into early 15c.), from Latin marmor, from or cognate with Greek marmaros “marble, gleaming stone,” of unknown origin, perhaps originally an adjective meaning “sparkling,” which would connect it with marmairein “to shine.” The Latin word was taken directly into Old English as marma. German Marmor is restored Latin from Old High German marmul. Meaning “little balls of marble used in a children’s game” is attested from 1690s.

late 14c., “of marble,” from marble (n.). Meaning “mottled like marble” is mid-15c. Marble cake is attested from 1864.

1590s (implied in marbled), “to give (something) the appearance of marble,” from marble (n.). Related: Marbling.
A metamorphic rock consisting primarily of calcite and dolomite. Marble is formed by the metamorphism of limestone. Although it is usually white to gray in color, it often has irregularly colored marks due to the presence of impurities such as silica and clay. Marble is used especially in sculpture and as a building material.

Related Terms

go for all the marbles, go for broke, have all one’s buttons, lose one’s marbles, mississippi marbles

(From the mainstream “lost his marbles”) The minimum needed to build your way further up some hierarchy of tools or abstractions. After a bad system crash, you need to determine if the machine has enough marbles to come up on its own, or enough marbles to allow a rebuild from backups, or if you need to rebuild from scratch. “This compiler doesn’t even have enough marbles to compile hello, world.”
[Jargon File]

as a mineral, consists of carbonate of lime, its texture varying from the highly crystalline to the compact. In Esther 1:6 there are four Hebrew words which are rendered marble:, (1.) Shesh, “pillars of marble.” But this word probably designates dark-blue limestone rather than marble. (2.) Dar, some regard as Parian marble. It is here rendered “white marble.” But nothing is certainly known of it. (3.) Bahat, “red marble,” probably the verd-antique or half-porphyry of Egypt. (4.) Sohareth, “black marble,” probably some spotted variety of marble. “The marble pillars and tesserae of various colours of the palace at Susa came doubtless from Persia itself, where marble of various colours is found, especially in the province of Hamadan Susiana.” The marble of Solomon’s architectural works may have been limestone from near Jerusalem, or from Lebanon, or possibly white marble from Arabia. Herod employed Parian marble in the temple, and marble columns still exist in great abundance at Jerusalem.

see: have all one’s buttons (marbles)


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