Definition of emery in English:



  • 1[mass noun] A greyish-black form of corundum containing iron oxide or other impurities, used in powdered form as an abrasive.

    • ‘If you haven't got access to a grinder then a smooth file and emery will actually do a better job even if it does take much longer.’
    • ‘Surfaces can be smoothed down by rasps, files, and rifflers or by carborundum and emery, and the addition of water avoids a build-up of dust.’
    • ‘However, it does give the reader a geologic framework for such well-known localities as the Chester emery mines.’
    • ‘When the roughcast was delivered to me, I had to stop up the air holes and the core hole, to correct the various defects, and to polish the bronze with files and very fine emery.’
    • ‘These included quartz, garnet and emery which were mixed with water to make a slurry and applied with rotary tools, such as wheels and drills, as well as non-rotary files.’
    1. 1.1[as modifier]Denoting materials coated with emery for polishing, smoothing, or grinding.
      ‘emery paper’
      • ‘To remove mildew stains from Venetian blinds, mix together some fine emery powder and linseed oil.’
      • ‘The arms are bent into shape and fitted and the whole is finished off with file and emery paper.’
      • ‘We shampoo them, comb the tails and polish the horns with emery paper, and they love it,’ he says.’
      • ‘Very fine emery cloth will give quicker results, but the metal must be rubbed in only one direction, do not use a circular motion.’
      • ‘To eliminate them, use emery paper and sand off the spots then make the plate flat.’
      • ‘Use a scraper, wire brush, or coarse emery cloth to remove any bubbled paint finish and loose rust.’
      • ‘It is done by hand, using a lathe to spin the barrel and a skilled touch with fine emery paper to polish the barrel to fit the bushing.’
      • ‘I had to make my bed, help with dishes and clean the knives with pink emery powder - quite an arduous job in the days before stainless steel knives.’
      • ‘With emery cloth, lightly rub each contact point to remove rust.’
      • ‘Use the emery cloth and clean the end of the pipe and the inside socket on the other piece.’
      • ‘With these first impressions, I work back into the plate with a scraper, burnisher and emery paper to enhance the lights and accent the motif.’
      • ‘Smooth weathered, rough wooden handles with medium-grit emery cloth - it won't tear as easily as sandpaper.’
      • ‘With steel wool, emery cloth or a wire brush remove all loose peeling paint and rust.’
      • ‘For safety's sake, use an emery cloth to sand the cut edges of your newly shortened rake.’


Late 15th century: from French émeri, from Old French esmeri, from Italian smeriglio, based on Greek smuris, smiris polishing powder.