From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
See also: Marble


Marble (rock)
Marbles (small balls)


From Middle English marble, marbre, from Anglo-Norman and Old French marbre, from Latin marmor, from Ancient Greek μάρμαρος (mármaros), perhaps related to μαρμάρεος (marmáreos, gleaming). Much of the early classical marble came from the 'Marmaris' sea above the Aegean. The forms from French replaced Old English marma, which had previously been borrowed from Latin.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈmɑː.bəl/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈmɑɹ.bəl/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɑː(ɹ)bəl
  • Hyphenation: mar‧ble


marble (countable and uncountable, plural marbles)

  1. (uncountable, petrology) A metamorphic rock of crystalline limestone. [from 12th c.]
    Hypernym: limestone
    • 1751, Thomas Morell (librettist), Jephtha:
      Open thy marble jaws, O tomb / And hide me, earth, in thy dark womb.
  2. (countable, games) A small ball used in games, originally of marble but now usually of glass or ceramic. [from 17th c.]
  3. (in the plural, archaeology) Statues made from marble. [from 17th c.]
    The Elgin Marbles were originally part of the temple of the Parthenon.
    • 1828, JT Smith, Nollekens and His Times, Century Hutchinson, published 1986, page 164:
      [I]t was a portrait of the Library, though not strictly correct as to its contents, since all the best of the marbles displayed in various parts of the house were brought into the painting by the artist, who made it up into a picturesque composition according to his own taste.


Derived terms[edit]

Terms derived from marble (noun)



marble (third-person singular simple present marbles, present participle marbling, simple past and past participle marbled)

  1. (transitive) To cause (something to have) the streaked or swirled appearance of certain types of marble, for example by mixing viscous ingredients incompletely, or by applying paint or other colorants unevenly.
    Synonym: marbleize
    • 1774, William Hutchinson, An excursion to the lakes in Westmoreland and Cumberland, August, 1773, page 29:
      The small clouds which chequered the sky, as they passed along, spread their flitting shadows on the distant mountains, and seemed to marble them; a beauty which I do not recollect has struck any painter.
    • 1899, Thirteenth Annual Report of the Commissioner of Labor, volume 1, page 106:
      In the operation of marbling the edges of the books, [...]
  2. (intransitive) To get or have the streaked or swirled appearance of certain types of marble, for example due to the incomplete mixing of viscous ingredients, or the uneven application of paint or other colorants.
    • 2007, Alicia Grosso, The Everything Soapmaking Book: Recipes and Techniques, page 125:
      Scent the entire batch and then color half with the blue colorant. Pour both parts back into your soap pot. Do not stir. Pour in a circular motion into a block mold. The pouring action will cause the soap to marble.
  3. (transitive) To cause meat, usually beef, pork, or lamb, to be interlaced with fat so that its appearance resembles that of marble.
    Synonym: marbleize
    • 1848, Samuel D. Martin, in a letter to the Albany Cultivator, quoted in the Fourteenth Annual Report of the Ohio State Board of Agriculture (for the year 1859; published 1860), page 157:
      Their flesh is soft (tender), and they throw a portion of their fat among the lean so as to marble it. The beef is of a better quality and they take on fat much easier.
    • 1904, Annual Report of the Wisconsin State Board of Agriculture for the year 1903, page 309:
      The Merino sheep is likely to put his weight largely into tallow around the stomach, intestines and on his kidneys, instead of mixing fairly with the meat, instead of marbling the meat.
    • 2004, Mary Ellen Snodgrass, Encyclopedia of kitchen history, page 684:
      Either by forcing the lardoon out with a plunger, by pushing it with a knife point, or by trailing it behind the needle, the cook artificially marbles the meat. For French cooks intent on larding, traditionally, the choice fat was the lard gras (pork fat).
  4. (intransitive, of meat, especially beef) To become interlaced with fat; (of fat) to interlace through meat.
    • 1999, Kathleen Jo Ryan, Deep in the heart of Texas: Texas ranchers in their own words, page 99:
      We've gone mostly to black bulls — Angus bulls because today the packers like black cattle. They seem to marble better.
    • 1974, Rising cost of meat: hearings before the Subcommittee on Domestic Marketing and Consumer Relations:
      As we feed these cattle corn their meat marbles. By marbling, I mean the red meat cells are surrounded with fat
    • 1978, Theodore Carroll Byerly, The role of ruminants in support of man:
      ... claims probably stem from people having eaten beef from older, thinner animals which had rarely had enough excess energy in their diet to cause the meat to marble.
    • 1972, Sondra Gotlieb, The Gourmet’s Canada, page 129:
      The exercising of the cattle causes the fat to marble right through the animal — and much of the flavour is found in the fat.
  5. (by extension, figurative) To lace or be laced throughout.
    • 1993, Susan Napier, Winter of Dreams, page 52:
      Was he the reason for the bitterness that seemed to marble her character?
    • 2004, Scott Bevan, Battle Lines: Australian Artists at War:
      'Nobody who has been to war ever talks about it,' he says. But then he does talk, and generously, mining his memory and following the vein of a life marbled with experience: 'I mean, I am in my nineties; [] '

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]



marble (comparative more marble, superlative most marble)

  1. Made of, or resembling, marble.
    a marble mantel
    marble paper
  2. (figurative) Cold; hard; unfeeling.
    a marble heart

Further reading[edit]