Definition of alabaster in English:


Pronunciation: /ˈaləbɑːstə//ˌaləˈbastə//ˈaləbastə//ˌaləˈbɑːstə/


  • [mass noun] A translucent form of gypsum or calcite, typically white, often carved into ornaments.

    • ‘The screen was innovatory in its use of classical architectural forms, their realization in black marble and white alabaster, and in the profusion of Italianate figure sculpture and reliefs.’
    • ‘She clasped a white hand to the black alabaster, sinking down to the floor.’
    • ‘They are supplied with marble slabs of African alabaster that were probably excavated from one of the many ancient sites in and around Rome.’
    • ‘The stones used include red jasper, white oriental alabaster, yellow chalcedony, and green gabbro.’
    • ‘From the tall grand winding stairway that was made from white alabaster, to the grand columns of tinted plexi-glass containing a mysterious fluid, to the wide expanse of glass paneled floor.’
    • ‘The banking floor was made of Italian marble and alabaster.’
    • ‘The mansion was gorgeous, southern style; the front porch was made of white alabaster with four columns supporting the triangle-framed roof.’
    • ‘The distressed surfaces, with their flinty earth tones, cobalt blues and nacreous whites, hold light like rough alabaster.’
    • ‘The 52 cm high sculpture is carved in translucent Egyptian alabaster and represents a royal female of the Amarna Period, between 1350-1334 B.C.’
    • ‘I looked down at the chip and realised the glossy alabaster white embossment was the silhouette of a horse with the letter Q on its flanks.’
    • ‘Other fusible materials were added: the mineral sericite (a type of mica called petuntse) by the Chinese, alabaster by the Böttger workshop.’
    • ‘An example is in site 31, an alabaster locality: no mention is made that alabaster is a fine-grained, compact variety of the mineral gypsum except in the glossary in the back of the book.’
    • ‘Wombi Rock, an amazing three-story crystal mountain built inside the casino, is crafted from more than 12,000 individual plates of onyx and alabaster fused to glass.’
    • ‘Pale vines wound over what looked to be emerald-green alabaster.’
    • ‘Some were crumbling, others were erect in immaculate alabaster.’
    • ‘A stupendous column of white alabaster, it shone as brilliantly as the hot Egyptian sun.’
    • ‘One of his suitcases contained three cylindrical stone seals, made of marble and alabaster.’
    • ‘Known for his geometric sculptures from the '50s in iron and alabaster, which have inspired numerous artists, particularly Richard Serra, he also made collages and wrote extensively.’
    • ‘We passed into my bed chamber, which contained a large, ‘four poster’ bed, as it may have been called Above, save for the fact that it was carved out of black alabaster instead of wood.’
    • ‘The pillars roared upward like towering giants made of white alabaster.’


  • 1Made of alabaster.

    ‘the gilded alabaster tomb of Sir Anthony Browne’
    • ‘It was, like most Mirthian buildings built of white alabaster stone.’
    • ‘A foot-high alabaster Michelangelo David has red lips and toe nails.’
    • ‘Six alabaster statues of the apostles, worth about £100,000, were stolen from All Saints' Church, in Pavement, York, in 1995.’
    • ‘The alabaster sculpture on display at a Baghdad gallery bears a striking resemblance to some of the shocking photographs that emerged last week.’
    • ‘This person is also a current practising catholic - reinforced by her refusal to go for a drink with me this weekend, as she is off to Bendigo for a pilgrimage behind an alabaster statue of the Virgin Mary for 100 km of walking to Ballarat.’
    • ‘Although Gil de Siloe has been called Netherlandish because of his style, much of his sculpture actually feeds on the Spanish tradition of alabaster carving.’
    • ‘The tomb consists of a prominent polychromed alabaster effigy of the duke lying in state on a slab of heavy black marble surrounded by heraldic symbols.’
    • ‘Repairs were also made to the alabaster monuments to Lord Lumley, his first wife Jane Fitzalan, and his second wife Elizabeth Darcy, which had cracked with the building's movement.’
    • ‘The Renaissance-style building and its high-ceilinged rooms lined with alabaster statues of Greek gods made an unforgettable impression on the 13-year-old.’
    • ‘I headed for the white alabaster vase and shoved the lilac stems down its throat.’
    • ‘Striking too are Leon Victor Solon's 1896 porcelain plaque Resting and the metal and alabaster three tulips lamps by Albert Cheuret.’
    • ‘Transported across the entire Eurasian continent is a white alabaster sculpture titled " The Kiss " by Auguste Rodin.’
    • ‘Olivia Williams' crisp, tinkling syllables have a very Kristin Scott Thomas-ish ennui, and she is often shown lying perfectly still in satin sheets like a vaguely preposterous alabaster saint.’
    • ‘Make your way past the alabaster nudes and sepia prints of West in better days; step over the polar bear shagpile rug, and into the salmon-pink inner sanctum of her boudoir, and what would you find?’
    • ‘His eyes were as black as his blade, while his skin was as pale as an alabaster angel.’
    • ‘The alabaster wall tomb that Chanterene created for the Archbishop of Évora is his most classical work, with a simplified architectural setting and the elimination of ornate decoration.’
    • ‘Brass plates were nailed on the first step of the white alabaster stairs.’
    • ‘The alabaster sculpture of a crouching naked man, with his hands tied and his head covered by a hood is on display at a Baghdad gallery.’
    • ‘As such I found myself dressed in black pyjamas and hood with only my eyes visible, creeping along a hallway with a particularly well-polished Ottoman strapped to my back and an alabaster vase full of tulips.’
    • ‘Beautiful alabaster vases, filled with oils and perfumes, and bejewelled anklets and necklaces are also on display.’
    white, pallid, pasty, pasty-faced, wan, colourless, anaemic, bloodless, washed out, peaky, peakish, ashen, ashen-faced, ashy, chalky, chalk-white, grey, whitish, white-faced, whey-faced, waxen, waxy, blanched, drained, pinched, green, ghastly, sickly, sallow, as white as a sheet, as white as a ghost, deathly pale, cadaverous, corpse-like, looking as if one had seen a ghost
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1literary Like alabaster in whiteness and smoothness.
      ‘her alabaster cheeks flushed with warmth’
      • ‘Soft auburn hair with the scent of wild grasses; alabaster skin smoother than milk.’
      • ‘In the flickering light Alex's pale hair was made flame, his alabaster skin held a rosy glow almost lifelike in its warmth.’
      • ‘The lash came out, and caught the boy on his alabaster cheek.’
      • ‘It appeared alabaster against his dark gray wool sweater.’
      • ‘With a bare, lolling chest, an almost flat stomach and a cream silk dhoti displaying his spindly, alabaster legs, he drives to the temple and parks half a block away, having reversed his car into the no-entry lane.’
      • ‘she asked, her smooth alabaster brow furrowing.’
      • ‘Her alabaster skin and green eyes made her a stunning beauty.’
      • ‘In the early morning light he'd step outside for a breath of air, paying no more attention to his needs than a dust mite, the colors of his canvas smeared across wizened, alabaster cheeks.’
      • ‘Just look at those clouds, the towers and bluffs and ranges of alabaster vapor - why would anyone build anything here?’
      • ‘He's violated the rules of both racial and gender identity by transforming himself into an alabaster androgyne.’
      • ‘Framed by the white hijab she adopted at 17, Joseph's serious eyes and alabaster features impart an ethereal air at odds with the mirth that can bubble up at her own expense.’
      • ‘He looked down at his own pale alabaster hands, linking them and stretching out his arms over the top of his open ring-binder.’
      • ‘So he has these alabaster white patches of wrinkled turtle skin holding him together.’
      • ‘The link was pretty damned snarky and all about Martin Peretz and the alabaster quality of The New Republic.’
      • ‘The pristine, pale features of the Virgin Mary looked back at my alabaster skin stoically.’
      • ‘All I noticed was purple eyes, green hair, three eyebrow rings and an alabaster boy holding my hand.’
      • ‘The grass was too emerald and willing to ignore the wind, and Everard reached behind himself for comfort, smoothing one of his small alabaster hands down the rough bark of the large plum tree.’
      • ‘A realistic hologram of a rag-clad senior with a white ponytail and long alabaster whiskers examined about the room with a confused countenance.’
      • ‘Once alabaster skin was now a stained mess of dark colour.’
      • ‘The Moon's glow casting its light on her form, her white tunic dress, glowing with the brilliance of the Moon, her alabaster skin, smooth and unmarred in the light.’


Late Middle English: via Old French from Latin alabaster, alabastrum, from Greek alabastos, alabastros.