- noun a bright blue precious stone
- A precious stone consisting of corundum with trace titanium and cobalt or iron impurity atoms, which give it is transparent blue appearance. A sapphire may also be of most any color except red, as that variety of corundum is known as ruby. Used, for instance, in precision instruments such as lasers, and as phonograph styli.
Origin & History of “sapphire”
Sapphire can be traced back through Old French safir and Latin sapphīrus to Greek sáppheiros (which seems to have denoted ‘lapis lazuli’, another blue stone), but beyond that its origins are uncertain. It may have been acquired via a Semitic language (Hebrew has sappir), but it has been suggested that its ultimate source could be Sanskrit sanipriya, which stood for a type of dark-coloured precious stone. It meant literally ‘precious to the planet Saturn’, and was a compound of Sani ‘Saturn’ and priya ‘precious’.