asbestos


asbestos
asbestos (n.) 1650s, earlier albeston, abestus (c.1100), name of a fabulous stone, which, set afire, could not be extinguished; from O.Fr. abeste, abestos, from L. asbestos "quicklime" (which "burns" when cold water is poured on it), from Gk. asbestos, lit. "inextinguishable," from a- "not" + sbestos, verbal adjective from sbennynai "to quench," from PIE root * (s)gwes- "to quench, extinguish" (Cf. Lith. gestu "to go out," O.C.S. gaso, Hittite kishtari "is being put out").
The Greek word was used by Dioscorides as a noun meaning "quicklime." "Erroneously applied by Pliny to an incombustible fibre, which he believed to be vegetable, but which was really the amiantos of the Greeks" [OED]. Meaning "mineral capable of being woven into incombustible fabric" is from c.1600 in English; earlier this was called amiant (early 15c.), from L. amiantus, from Gk. amiantos, lit. "undefiled" (so called because it showed no mark or stain when thrown into fire). Supposed in the Middle Ages to be salamanders' wool. Prester John, the Emperor of India, and Pope Alexander III were said to have had robes or tunics made of it.

Etymology dictionary. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Asbestos — Administration Pays  Canada Province …   Wikipédia en Français

  • asbestos — [as bes′təs, azbes′təs] n. [ME asbestus < L asbestos < Gr, inextinguishable < a , not + sbestos < sbennynai, to extinguish: first applied in Gr & L to unslaked lime or a mineral other than asbestos] any of several grayish minerals, as …   English World dictionary

  • asbestos — n. A silicate mineral that resists heat and can be woven into fire resistant material. The Essential Law Dictionary. Sphinx Publishing, An imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. Amy Hackney Blackwell. 2008 …   Law dictionary

  • Asbestos — v. du Canada (Québec); 6 480 hab. Importante mine d amiante …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • ASBESTOS — lapis ferrei coloris, qui accensus semel exstingui nequitur; eum Arcadia mittit, Solin. c. 7. In montibus Arcadiae nasci, Plin. l. 37. c. 10. habet. Qui idem Asbesti lini meminit quod in desertis adustisque Sole Indiae nasei prodit, sed rarum… …   Hofmann J. Lexicon universale

  • asbestos — ► NOUN ▪ a highly heat resistant fibrous silicate mineral, used in fire resistant and insulating materials. ORIGIN from Greek, unquenchable …   English terms dictionary

  • Asbestos — For other uses, see Asbestos (disambiguation). Fibrous asbestos on muscovite …   Wikipedia

  • asbestos — asbestine /as bes tin, az /, asbestous, adj. asbestoid, asbestoidal, adj. /as bes teuhs, az /, n. 1. Mineral. a fibrous mineral, either amphibole or chrysotile, formerly used for making incombustible or fireproof articles. 2. a fabric woven from… …   Universalium

  • Asbestos — Asbestus As*bes tus, Asbestos As*bes tos (?; 277), n. [L. asbestos (NL. asbestus) a kind of mineral unaffected by fire, Gr. ? (prop. an adj.) inextinguishable; a priv. + ? to extinguish.] (Min.) A variety of amphibole or of pyroxene, occurring in …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • asbestos — [14] Originally, the word we now know as asbestos was applied in the Middle Ages to a mythical stone which, once set alight, could never be put out; it came from the Greek compound ásbestos, literally ‘inextinguishable’, which was formed from the …   The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.