Definition of marble in English:



  • 1A hard crystalline metamorphic form of limestone, typically white with mottlings or streaks of color, that is capable of taking a polish and is used in sculpture and architecture.

    • ‘The two shower rooms and the main bathroom have white sanitary ware and either natural flagstone floor or white marble tiles.’
    • ‘The room was painted pearl white which happened to match the polished marble floor.’
    • ‘All buildings were built of the same white stone, possibly limestone or marble.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Most sculpture is carved in white marble and often is displayed in palaces and public buildings.’
    • ‘Double doors lead to a sitting room with antique marble fireplace and polished timber floor.’
    • ‘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 most handsome and timeless of materials is stone such as marble, granite, limestone, or slate.’
    • ‘He replaced the stone of the fireplace front with glossy white marble tiles.’
    • ‘Its highly polished surfaces were a pearl white marble with veins of soft grey.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She had changed the design plans for her floor from black marble to white marble - they never saw it coming.’
    • ‘He glanced around his master suite room; the floor was blue and white marble.’
    • ‘The floors were made from highly polished white marble that appeared to be as new as the day it had been set down.’
    • ‘My feet were placed upon the white marble floor and I sighed yet again.’
    • ‘Double doors to the right lead to a large drawing room with polished oak floor and marble fireplace.’
    1. 1.1 Used in similes and comparisons with reference to the smoothness, hardness, or color of marble.
      ‘her shoulders were as white as marble’
      • ‘As Dominic fell at his feet, his face became calm and smooth as marble again.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘A waxed, oak desk stood in the back of the room and it was smooth to the touch, like marble.’
      • ‘Translucent waves, coloured like green marble, arched for impact on crenulated rocks.’
      • ‘The sides of the pit were as smooth as marble and as durable as granite.’
    2. 1.2 A marble sculpture.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Of the outstanding figures of the period, Henry Howard, 2nd Earl of Arundel, was the first to collect marbles seriously.’
      • ‘Only the works of art, the durable white marbles, have outlasted antiquity to become part of the museum collections of modern Rome.’
      • ‘Sciberras excels in his evaluation of evidence and in technical matters such as the precise identification of all the various marbles.’
      • ‘The outline of the field was clearly marked with a border of white marbles about four feet high.’
      • ‘When Greeks talk about their missing marbles, they are usually referring to Lord Elgin's souvenir-hunting around the Parthenon.’
      • ‘Fourth and fifth Century writers describe the richness of its marbles, mosaics, frescoes, and the silver manger replacing the original clay one.’
      • ‘Almost everywhere one can see the names and other writings which the visitors inscribe on the stones and marbles.’
      • ‘The British government has remained steadfast in its refusal to return the marbles.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 2A small ball of colored glass or similar material used as a toy.

    • ‘So he bought a jar and filled it with 1,000 marbles.’
    • ‘She returned with her Chinese checkers board and sack of marbles and then proceeded to set the game up between them.’
    • ‘His enigmatic assemblages glimmer with glitter, buttons, beads, marbles and plastic toys, bearing what appear to be images of mythic emperors and omniscient eyes.’
    • ‘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 and Benjamin weren't exactly working together; both were too eager to get the small marbles off the floor.’
    • ‘She listened very closely as a hole in the table opened up and the marble fell out into Benny's hands.’
    • ‘He puts on his dressing gown, tearing one of its pockets in his haste, letting marbles scatter across 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.’
    • ‘In front of the chair, three black children were on their hands and knees playing some kind of game with marbles.’
    • ‘For Irving, I bought a one dollar sack of glass marbles.’
    • ‘One was playing with two glass marbles, rolling them from hand to hand, completely ignoring the unearthly commotion going on around him.’
    • ‘They would like to ban possession of marbles, golf balls, batteries, as potentials for causing damage as projectiles.’
    • ‘Fill martini glasses with BBs or marbles, leaving 1/2 inch at the top of the glass.’
    • ‘One contains 2 black marbles, another one contains 2 white marbles, and the third contains one black marble and one white one.’
    • ‘The object of the game is to capture either 2 marbles of each color, or 3 white, 4 gray, or 5 black marbles.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They laid their marbles on the floor and played for an hour.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The main thing I remember about that movie is that I think he threw marbles on the ground and the fellow fell over.’
    • ‘His early experiments involved catapulting marbles across a tub of water in his garden.’
    1. 2.1marblestreated as singular A game in which small balls of colored glass are rolled along the ground.
      • ‘She kept herself busy playing whip a top, hoopla, marbles, hopscotch, hide and seek and oranges and lemons.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Decades ago, children were always filled with immense pleasure when playing tag, marbles, jumping rubber bands or hopscotch.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Or, out in the playground, compete in a game of conkers, marbles and - if you are up for it - hopscotch and skipping.’
      • ‘As for the history: the game of marbles may be claimed by the ancient Romans, or perhaps in India five hundred years ago.’
      • ‘For example, hard and even surfaces allow for children to play marbles or hopscotch, or to practice riding a scooter.’
      • ‘He held up a game he was scheduled to pitch because he was playing marbles with children outside the park.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Other traditional games such as skipping and marbles are also being brought back in other primary schools.’
      • ‘Children play hide-and-seek, hopscotch, round dances, and marbles.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Buzul-bazi is a game like marbles or dice, played with sheep's knucklebones.’
      • ‘He devises a game of marbles, and sits with the child and plays.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Children play a game like marbles with cashew seeds.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He liked to chase fire engines, lead parades and play marbles under the stands between innings of games.’
  • 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.’
    • ‘But as Nietzsche discovered, incessant philosophical thought can also damage one's 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.’
    sanity, mind, mental faculties, mental health, soundness of mind
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  • Stain or streak (something) so that it looks like variegated marble.

    ‘the low 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.’
    • ‘It looks good if you marble it instead of beating it in completely.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Aspen trees, green with their new spring leaves, marble the spruce forest.’
    • ‘Its breath, coming as wind, swirls and marbles the planetary surface, changing the patterns of the clouds.’
    • ‘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.’
    dot, spot, mark, fleck, streak, speck, speckle, bespeckle, mottle, stipple
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  • pick up one's marbles and go home

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

      ‘he doesn't have the guts to take a bad defeat, and is now picking up his marbles and going home’
      • ‘And when he does not get his way threatens to pick up his marbles and go home.’
      • ‘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.’


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