Definition of marble in English:



  • 1mass noun A hard crystalline metamorphic form of limestone, typically white with coloured mottlings or streaks, which may be polished and is used in sculpture and architecture.

    ‘the spotless white marble of the Taj Mahal’
    as modifier ‘a marble floor’
    • ‘Most sculpture is carved in white marble and often is displayed in palaces and public buildings.’
    • ‘The room was painted pearl white which happened to match the polished marble floor.’
    • ‘She had changed the design plans for her floor from black marble to white marble - they never saw it coming.’
    • ‘He replaced the stone of the fireplace front with glossy white marble tiles.’
    • ‘Double doors lead to a sitting room with antique marble fireplace and polished timber floor.’
    • ‘He glanced around his master suite room; the floor was blue and white marble.’
    • ‘The two shower rooms and the main bathroom have white sanitary ware and either natural flagstone floor or white marble tiles.’
    • ‘Double doors to the right lead to a large drawing room with polished oak floor and marble fireplace.’
    • ‘Its highly polished surfaces were a pearl white marble with veins of soft grey.’
    • ‘My feet were placed upon the white marble floor and I sighed yet again.’
    • ‘All buildings were built of the same white stone, possibly limestone or marble.’
    • ‘Pat and his staff also work with a number of quarries to allow them get limestone and marble directly at the most competitive price.’
    • ‘The floor was the same white marble, and a crystal chandelier hung from the slightly domed ceiling.’
    • ‘He has the kind of idealized face that's made to be observed in repose, like he was a painting or a sculpture in cool white marble or something.’
    • ‘Below the glacier lies granite, seamed through with limestone and marble which the constant rush of meltwater has honeycombed with caves.’
    • ‘She walked through her kitchen and down the hall to the foyer, which was complete with white marble flooring and a crystal chandelier.’
    • ‘The floors were made from highly polished white marble that appeared to be as new as the day it had been set down.’
    • ‘The most handsome and timeless of materials is stone such as marble, granite, limestone, or slate.’
    • ‘Internally there is a mosaic tiled floor, stone and marble pillars and part marble-clad walls.’
    • ‘Inside, they laid their burden down on a large slab of polished white marble that was set up in the center of the tomb.’
    1. 1.1 Used figuratively to refer to something with the smoothness, hardness, or colour of marble.
      ‘her shoulders were as white as marble’
      • ‘Translucent waves, coloured like green marble, arched for impact on crenulated rocks.’
      • ‘It felt as smooth as marble and had the intense burning cold as ice.’
      • ‘A cold slab of marble had replaced a smooth hand he once saw.’
      • ‘As Dominic fell at his feet, his face became calm and smooth as marble again.’
      • ‘The sides of the pit were as smooth as marble and as durable as granite.’
      • ‘A waxed, oak desk stood in the back of the room and it was smooth to the touch, like marble.’
      • ‘Her face was passive and as smooth as dead marble, but even from where he was standing, he could feel the sadness tugging at her eyes.’
    2. 1.2count noun A marble sculpture.
      ‘a pair of dramatic marbles showing dogs attacking a buck’
      • ‘Fourth and fifth Century writers describe the richness of its marbles, mosaics, frescoes, and the silver manger replacing the original clay one.’
      • ‘Sciberras excels in his evaluation of evidence and in technical matters such as the precise identification of all the various marbles.’
      • ‘When Greeks talk about their missing marbles, they are usually referring to Lord Elgin's souvenir-hunting around the Parthenon.’
      • ‘Only the works of art, the durable white marbles, have outlasted antiquity to become part of the museum collections of modern Rome.’
      • ‘Within that huge space, the marbles will be arrayed around the outside of a rectangular structure that is the same length and width as the Parthenon.’
      • ‘Almost everywhere one can see the names and other writings which the visitors inscribe on the stones and marbles.’
      • ‘Of the outstanding figures of the period, Henry Howard, 2nd Earl of Arundel, was the first to collect marbles seriously.’
      • ‘What caused the marble to fall from the Supreme Court building?’
      • ‘Echoing the pleas of the Greeks for the repatriation of the Elgin marbles, Egypt has appealed to the British Museum for the return of the Rosetta Stone.’
      • ‘The outline of the field was clearly marked with a border of white marbles about four feet high.’
      • ‘The marbles of Franklin and Washington seem too sharply white when placed in the company of those which have not been in the hands of museums or the trade, such as the Antoine Louis referred to above.’
      • ‘The British government has remained steadfast in its refusal to return the marbles.’
  • 2A small ball of coloured glass or similar material used as a toy.

    • ‘They would like to ban possession of marbles, golf balls, batteries, as potentials for causing damage as projectiles.’
    • ‘It might have been brazen but it was the only way you could get things like cigarette cards back then, and cigarette cards, along with glass marbles, were staples of the small child's barter system.’
    • ‘One contains 2 black marbles, another one contains 2 white marbles, and the third contains one black marble and one white one.’
    • ‘That could mean anything from a child of three trying to balance on a big brother's skateboard at the top of a flight of stairs, to little children swallowing marbles or other small toys.’
    • ‘Drive-by vandals hurling rocks and marbles at glass shopfronts are forcing business owners to fear for their safety and bear the cost of thousands of dollars in repairs.’
    • ‘She listened very closely as a hole in the table opened up and the marble fell out into Benny's hands.’
    • ‘For Irving, I bought a one dollar sack of glass marbles.’
    • ‘In front of the chair, three black children were on their hands and knees playing some kind of game with marbles.’
    • ‘His early experiments involved catapulting marbles across a tub of water in his garden.’
    • ‘She returned with her Chinese checkers board and sack of marbles and then proceeded to set the game up between them.’
    • ‘The object of the game is to capture either 2 marbles of each color, or 3 white, 4 gray, or 5 black marbles.’
    • ‘So he bought a jar and filled it with 1,000 marbles.’
    • ‘The main thing I remember about that movie is that I think he threw marbles on the ground and the fellow fell over.’
    • ‘They laid their marbles on the floor and played for an hour.’
    • ‘Fill martini glasses with BBs or marbles, leaving 1/2 inch at the top of the glass.’
    • ‘His enigmatic assemblages glimmer with glitter, buttons, beads, marbles and plastic toys, bearing what appear to be images of mythic emperors and omniscient eyes.’
    • ‘One was playing with two glass marbles, rolling them from hand to hand, completely ignoring the unearthly commotion going on around him.’
    • ‘He puts on his dressing gown, tearing one of its pockets in his haste, letting marbles scatter across the floor.’
    • ‘She and Benjamin weren't exactly working together; both were too eager to get the small marbles off the floor.’
    • ‘The game board tumbled to the ground and twenty red and yellow marbles rolled in various directions across the floor, beneath the bed, and under the dresser.’
    1. 2.1marblestreated as singular A game in which marbles are rolled along the ground with the aim of hitting those of one's opponent.
      ‘a couple of girls were playing marbles’
      • ‘Pupils at Seend School did most of the organisation for the event themselves and thought of ideas for games, including a treasure hunt, marbles and lucky dips.’
      • ‘He liked to chase fire engines, lead parades and play marbles under the stands between innings of games.’
      • ‘These include tag, hide-and-seek, kite-flying, marbles, and spinning tops.’
      • ‘Outdoor games like marbles, jacks, hopscotch not only occupy your kids, they will also strengthen coordination skills.’
      • ‘Decades ago, children were always filled with immense pleasure when playing tag, marbles, jumping rubber bands or hopscotch.’
      • ‘So time went by very fast, we were now playing outdoor games like tig, hide and seek and marbles or ‘Taws’, as we knew them.’
      • ‘As for the history: the game of marbles may be claimed by the ancient Romans, or perhaps in India five hundred years ago.’
      • ‘Children play hide-and-seek, hopscotch, round dances, and marbles.’
      • ‘He held up a game he was scheduled to pitch because he was playing marbles with children outside the park.’
      • ‘She kept herself busy playing whip a top, hoopla, marbles, hopscotch, hide and seek and oranges and lemons.’
      • ‘As she sat at the edge of his feet, failing to become amused from her silly game of marbles, she'd glance towards him every so often in hope that he might finally speak to her and prove that he wasn't quite so ill as she thought.’
      • ‘Buzul-bazi is a game like marbles or dice, played with sheep's knucklebones.’
      • ‘For example, hard and even surfaces allow for children to play marbles or hopscotch, or to practice riding a scooter.’
      • ‘Children play a game like marbles with cashew seeds.’
      • ‘This has caused such a flurry in Tess's world of education that her school has now banned sledging, along with conkers, marbles, yo-yos and the sack race at school sports.’
      • ‘The children also took part in Victorian pastimes such as Throw the Horseshoe, a coconut shy, a tin can alley, marbles and hoop the duck.’
      • ‘Or, out in the playground, compete in a game of conkers, marbles and - if you are up for it - hopscotch and skipping.’
      • ‘He devises a game of marbles, and sits with the child and plays.’
      • ‘But as the years went by, Bishop noticed that her son, who loved to play marbles on the ground out back, always seemed to have infected sores on his knees.’
      • ‘Other traditional games such as skipping and marbles are also being brought back in other primary schools.’
  • 3one's marblesinformal One's mental faculties.

    ‘I thought she'd lost her marbles, asking a question like that’
    • ‘There's no hope for him now because he's lost his marbles and has gone completely crazy.’
    • ‘His friends thought it would be a laugh, but they never expected him to stay for almost a year and they start to wonder if he's lost his marbles.’
    • ‘She's 81 years old, and up until yesterday I thought she still had all her marbles intact, I'm not so sure now.’
    • ‘But as Nietzsche discovered, incessant philosophical thought can also damage one's marbles.’
    sanity, mind, mental faculties, mental health, soundness of mind
    View synonyms


[with object]
  • Stain or streak (something) so that it looks like marble.

    ‘the stone walls were marbled with moss and lichen’
    • ‘This nontraditional method of marbling to create designs on paper presents just enough challenge to expand their creative confidence.’
    • ‘Its breath, coming as wind, swirls and marbles the planetary surface, changing the patterns of the clouds.’
    • ‘It looks good if you marble it instead of beating it in completely.’
    • ‘Aspen trees, green with their new spring leaves, marble the spruce forest.’
    • ‘They were also shown how to do paper marbling, wire sculptures with papier mâché, and collage.’
    • ‘It opens with a borsch soup, a smooth and tangy beet broth served with a side of sour cream that melts into the bowl, marbling the intense purple colour.’
    • ‘The way that the effects people make the dummies look eerily life like is astonishing - everything from puncturing in real hair to marbling the skin is done.’
    dot, spot, mark, fleck, streak, speck, speckle, bespeckle, mottle, stipple
    View synonyms


  • pass in one's marble

    • informal Die.

      ‘I'm not going to pass in my marble just yet!’
      • ‘A decent way outback, you'll most likely come to country where even the 'Old Bloke' might just as well 'pass in his marble'.’
      • ‘I feel ready to pass in my marble.’
      • ‘What if I pass in my marble like this? A former athlete and tumbler.’
      • ‘"Speared right through the middle, he was. Didn't die till the next day, all tied up in a proper knot, he hurt so. Hideous way to pass in his marble, and here's all his mates making merry."’
  • pick up one's marbles and go home

    • informal Withdraw petulantly from an activity after having suffered a setback.

      ‘he's now picking up his marbles and going home because his political career is in tatters’
      • ‘I would hope he would recognize that this is not an appropriate location, pick up his marbles and go home, but we've long since given up hope on that.’
      • ‘And when he does not get his way threatens to pick up his marbles and go home.’


Middle English: via Old French (variant of marbre), from Latin marmor, from Greek marmaros ‘shining stone’, associated with marmairein ‘to shine’.