Definition of nephrite in US English:



  • A hard, pale green or white mineral which is one of the forms of jade. It is a silicate of calcium and magnesium.

    • ‘Of the two kinds of jade, jadeite and nephrite, the former is harder than the latter and cannot be scratched with a penknife blade.’
    • ‘Hewn from jade, nephrite, marble, and hardstone, the oddly shaped blades lack an obvious prototype in any functional tool or weapon.’
    • ‘Usually of a pale green or grey-green nephrite, they are worked to a high standard and are generally dated to the eighteenth century largely on stylistic grounds.’
    • ‘Reflecting his dominant emphasis on design rather than gemstones for visual impact, Tiffany chose beads of nephrite for the grapes.’
    • ‘The table, one of only eight recorded pieces of furniture by Faberge, stands out for its sheer elegance and the subtle orchestration of silver, nephrite, and exotic palisander wood.’
    • ‘Those made under Perkhin tend to be in the rococo Louis XV style and often have bodies of hardstones such as nephrite or bowenite.’


Late 18th century: from German Nephrit, from Greek nephros ‘kidney’ (with reference to its supposed efficacy in treating kidney disease).