Definition of lapidary in US English:



  • 1Relating to stone and gems and the work involved in engraving, cutting, or polishing.

    • ‘The symposium will bring together professionals and amateurs who mine, collect, research, curate and display, and engage in the lapidary and jewelry use of gem materials from the Rocky Mountain area.’
    • ‘The book is arranged in a logical format, beginning with introductory material that discusses exactly what minerals, lapidary materials, and rocks are and concludes with a nice summary of the many aspects of collecting.’
    • ‘The Jeff Scovil photographs make it clear that the average material available at most sites is not particularly desirable in terms of the advanced collector, and much of it tends toward the lapidary arts.’
    • ‘Meanwhile Mr Musonda said two local companies were interested in setting up lapidary centres for the cutting and polishing of gemstones at the exchange which would add value to the stones.’
    • ‘This switch of emphasis from lapidary to wheel-face cutting is probably attributable to recent technological improvements.’
    • ‘Ohio flint, which is among the finest flint in North America, was worked extensively by prehistoric Indians and is widely sought for knapping and use in the lapidary trade.’
    • ‘This combination of minerals is one of Colorado's well-known lapidary materials, for it has long been cut and polished and used in jewelry.’
    • ‘The Emerald and Semi-Precious Stones Association of Zambia has called for the establishment of more lapidary industries in order to encourage value addition to locally produced emeralds.’
    • ‘Stones were not an integral part of the tradition I was studying with at the time, and unable to find a suitable book at the local metaphysical shop, I located a lapidary magazine with sources of stone material.’
    • ‘Clamping pieces against grinding and polishing lapidary wheels helped to achieve virtually perfect ‘mirror’ finishes.’
    • ‘The Algomah mine is best known for lapidary material and copper-bearing microminerals, including (but not limited to) plancheite, kinoite, dioptase, azurite, and atacamite.’
    • ‘This attractive material is mostly consumed by the lapidary market for jewelry and decorative specimens for dressing windows and display cases.’
    • ‘As a collecting locality guide, particularly for lapidary materials and fossils, this book is very useful, and its $12.95 price makes it a bargain.’
    • ‘And Mr Manza had said if there was to be full realisation of the Zambian potential in gemstones, similar support should be extended to the lapidary and jewelry industries.’
    • ‘He began with lapidary work, but after being introduced to micromounting by Micromounters Hall of Fame member Phil Evanoff, he was captured by the beauty he saw under the microscope.’
    • ‘He said one other company which had shown interest in investing in Ndola was Kagem Mining which had plans to set up a lapidary centre with estimated initial employment levels of at least 200 people.’
    • ‘She said Government has contributed to the industry through among other things, the establishment of a lapidary and processing training centre in Ndola where gemmology and lapidary skills are being imparted to the people.’
    • ‘His care for well-defined blocks of color is almost lapidary, like the intricately wrought components of stained-glass windows or a jeweler's cloisonne.’
    • ‘Agates were apparently highly valued by the ancient Egyptians for their lapidary use and were mounted into gold with other precious stones such as lapis and emeralds.’
    • ‘The change came about when Stroganoff was put in charge of the imperial lapidary works in 1800 and involved Voronikhin in every aspect of production, from design to the selection of the stones.’
    1. 1.1 (of language) engraved on or suitable for engraving on stone and therefore elegant and concise.
      ‘a lapidary statement’
      • ‘How quickly these lapidary phrases are crumbling around their feet!’
      • ‘His writing was ‘carefully phrased with the lapidary (his own description of his style) care one would give to a Latin epigram.’’
      • ‘In the past, this event would have been greeted by silence, so that his lapidary words could rebound off the walls and resound in our minds.’
      • ‘This is not an inspiring way to start a long day at a job requiring patience, concentration and a lapidary expression of optimism.’
      • ‘Poets, journalists, casual poker players and world-class professionals all tend to gush over its lapidary prose, sage hold'em insight and droll use of cowboy patois as they pass around hard-to-find copies.’
      • ‘It combines his lapidary style with considerable learning and eagerness.’
      • ‘However it is still a good play, with a lapidary style and some interesting and original thematic concerns and imagery that are forcibly stressed.’
      • ‘Archeologist Timothy Taylor determines with lapidary concision that ‘There are no laws of human behavior.’’
      • ‘Pétain's lapidary comment on 1940 was: ‘too few children, too few arms, too few allies.’’
      • ‘The paradox of Aquin as author is that out of impotence and disease he made masterpieces of flashing, lapidary prose, that as a failure he was able to write macabre, lewd, violent, hilarious and arrogant novels.’
      • ‘‘They are not serious’ was the lapidary verdict on ‘the Europeans’ delivered to me by George F. Will over a stately breakfast in a Washington hotel.’
      • ‘To be successful, it had to be concise, dignified and durable; in short, lapidary (from the Latin lapis, stone).’
      • ‘I have often thought that your best bet, if you need intelligent, lapidary prose in a hurry, is to ask a poet to do it, even, or rather particularly, if it's about politics.’
      • ‘Whole tribes of bones will be creaking into motion, and hearses will be summoned, and lapidary inscriptions will be scratched out and rectified.’
      • ‘While their lives overlapped for only one year, they were both masters of clear, witty insight, and they both wrote in a brilliant lapidary English.’
      • ‘The writing is lapidary and matter-of-fact, but it releases huge emotion - and so does Newton's direction.’
      • ‘It whispered faintly, that July day, in the same lapidary phrase, the same words of hope…’
      • ‘Throughout the text, Graubard's lapidary prose is lucid and provocative, likely to induce a glow of pleasure in the reader.’
      • ‘All her short stories are lapidary masterpieces, and among the novels it's hard for me to choose a favorite: Goodbye Without Leaving, maybe, or Family Happiness.’
      concise, succinct, terse, pithy, aphoristic, compact, condensed, compressed, short, brief
      View synonyms


  • A person who cuts, polishes, or engraves gems.

    • ‘This material is highly sought after by lapidaries for ornamental items such as bookends and clocks.’
    • ‘What we have is clearly limned like the work of a master lapidary.’
    • ‘Mineral collectors join rock and fossil collectors and lapidaries in an online community whose discussions sparked the international survey of rockhound enthusiasts.’
    • ‘Its streets were ‘handsome and broad, full of the shops of jewellers, goldsmiths, lapidaries, carpet weavers, silk mercers and other artisans.’’
    • ‘This type of high-grade is slabbed and sold to lapidaries for use in jewelry.’
    • ‘The chalcedony may be banded or it may contain ‘pseudo-algal’ structures that are of special interest to collectors and lapidaries.’
    • ‘It is very attractive au naturel or as cut by lapidaries.’
    • ‘Association president George Shaba said in an interview that there were only four lapidaries in the country at present which were not enough to cut and polish all the gemstones that the industry produced.’
    • ‘The Russian candelabrum of lapis lazuli and gilt bronze shown in Plate V (one of a pair) is an example of the fine work of Russian lapidaries.’
    • ‘For one, iron minerals, as such, do not have the allure of native copper and silver, and it's difficult to compete with the beauty and uniqueness of datolite nodules for the lapidary.’
    • ‘One of the earliest manufacturers of the lamps was Peter Geley, who was listed in the 1799 Philadelphia directory as a jeweler and lapidary.’


Middle English (as a noun): from Latin lapidarius (in late Latin ‘stonecutter’), from lapis, lapid- ‘stone’. The adjective dates from the early 18th century.