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See also: Ebony


An organ keyboard, with wooden keys of ebony (dark) and maple (light)


From earlier heben, hebeny, from Middle English ebenif, hebenyf (influenced by Late Latin hebeninus), from Ecclesiastical Latin ebenius (of ebony), from Latin hebenus (ebon tree), from Ancient Greek ἔβενος (ébenos), from Egyptian hbnj,



  • (UK, US) IPA(key): /ˈɛb.ən.i/
  • (file)


ebony (usually uncountable, plural ebonies)

  1. (uncountable) A hard, dense, deep black wood from various subtropical and tropical trees, especially of the genus Diospyros.
  2. (countable) A tree that yields such wood.
  3. (countable and uncountable) A deep, dark black colour.
  4. (slang, countable) A black key on a piano or other keyboard instrument.
    • 1982, Paul McCartney (lyrics and music), “Ebony and Ivory”, in Tug of War, performed by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder:
      Ebony and ivory / Live together in perfect harmony / Side by side on my piano keyboard / Oh lord, why don't we?

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ebony (comparative more ebony, superlative most ebony)

  1. Made of ebony wood.
  2. A deep, dark black colour.
    • 1961 February, “New "Mini-Buffets" from Wolverton”, in Trains Illustrated, page 79:
      Seats are trimmed in a grey and blue moquette and tables are finished with grey Vyanide tops, gilt edging and ebony legs.
  3. Dark-skinned; black; especially in reference to African-Americans.
    • 1864, George Adams Fisher, The Yankee conscript: or, Eighteen months in Dixie:
      He called the ebony mistress of the establishment to him, and speaking to her kindly and winningly, as any dutiful husband should, told her to make the change, which she did.
    • 1931, Catherine MacFarlane Carswell, The life of Robert Burns:
      No attempt was made in her new home to discontinue or even to conceal the presence of an ebony mistress and a thriving family of little mulattoes...
    • 2004, Alyssa, “Ebony Girls Need Attention”, in alt.sex.escorts (Usenet):
      Want to watch my gorgeous ebony friend, Almond Joy, naked and online 24/7? She recently ended a long-term relationship and is now fully enjoying being a 25 year-old single gal in Beverly Hills.

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