What does opal mean?

Definitions for opal
ˈoʊ pəlopal

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word opal.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. opalnoun

    a translucent mineral consisting of hydrated silica of variable color; some varieties are used as gemstones


  1. opalnoun

    A mineral consisting, like quartz, of silica, but inferior to quartz in hardness and specific gravity, of the chemical formula SiO·nHO.

  2. Opalnoun

    from the precious stone, invented in the nineteenth century.

  3. Opalnoun

    A type of petrol made by British Petroleum designed to be unable to be used for petrol sniffing.

  4. opalnoun

    A mineral consisting, like quartz, of silica, but inferior to quartz in hardness and specific gravity, of the chemical formula SiO2·nH2O.

    Although there are dozens of different types of gems, among the best known and most important are  .

  5. opalnoun

    A colloquial name used in molecular biology referring to a particular stop codon sequence, "UGA."

  6. opalnoun

    Any of various lycaenid butterflies of the genus Nesolycaena.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Opalnoun

    The opal is a very elegant and a very singular kind of stone, it hardly comes within the rank of the pellucid gems, being much more opake, and less hard. It is found always in the pebble shape of various sizes, from the head of a pin to the bigness of a walnut. It is naturally bright, smooth and glossy, and shows all its beauty without the help of the lapidary: in colour it much resembles the finest mother of pearl; its basis seeming a bluish or greyish white, but with a property of reflecting all the colours of the rainbow, as turned differently to the light, among which the green and the blue are particularly beautiful, but the fiery red is the finest of all. This stone is found in the East-Indies, in Egypt, Persia and Tartary, and in some parts of Europe, particularly in Bohemia; but the oriental is much the finest. John Hill Mat. Med.

    Thy mind is a very opal. William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night.

    Th’ empyreal heav’n, extended wide
    In circuit, undetermin’d square or round;
    With opal tow’rs, and battlements adorn’d
    Of living saphir. John Milton, Par. Lost, b. ii.

    We have this stone from Germany, and is the same with the opal of the ancients. John Woodward, on Foss.


  1. Opal

    Opal is a hydrated amorphous form of silica (SiO2·nH2O); its water content may range from 3 to 21% by weight, but is usually between 6 and 10%. Due to its amorphous property, it is classified as a mineraloid, unlike crystalline forms of silica, which are considered minerals. It is deposited at a relatively low temperature and may occur in the fissures of almost any kind of rock, being most commonly found with limonite, sandstone, rhyolite, marl, and basalt. The name opal is believed to be derived from the Sanskrit word upala (उपल), which means 'jewel', and later the Greek derivative opállios (ὀπάλλιος), which means 'to see a change in color'. There are two broad classes of opal: precious and common. Precious opal displays play-of-color (iridescence); common opal does not. Play-of-color is defined as "a pseudo chromatic optical effect resulting in flashes of colored light from certain minerals, as they are turned in white light." The internal structure of precious opal causes it to diffract light, resulting in play-of-color. Depending on the conditions in which it formed, opal may be transparent, translucent, or opaque, and the background color may be white, black, or nearly any color of the visual spectrum. Black opal is considered the rarest, while white, gray, and green opals are the most common.


  1. opal

    Opal is a type of precious gemstone, which is typically classified as a mineraloid because of its amorphous nature, as opposed to the structured arrangement of crystal particles found in most minerals. It is famed for its ability to diffract light, which often results in a wide variety of colors being seen, such as white, pink, yellow, blue and green. This phenomenon, known as 'play-of-color', makes each opal unique. It is composed of silica and water and its name comes from the Sanskrit word ‘upala’, meaning ‘precious stone’.


  1. Opal

    Opal is a hydrated amorphous form of silica; its water content may range from 3% to 21% by weight, but is usually between 6% to 10%. Because of its amorphous character it is classed as a mineraloid, unlike the other crystalline forms of silica which are classed as minerals. It is deposited at a relatively low temperature and may occur in the fissures of almost any kind of rock, being most commonly found with limonite, sandstone, rhyolite, marl and basalt. Opal is the national gemstone of Australia, which produces 97% of the world's supply. This includes the production of the state of South Australia, which amounts to around 80% of the world's supply. The internal structure of precious opal makes it diffract light; depending on the conditions in which it formed it can take on many colors. Precious opal ranges from clear through white, gray, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, magenta, rose, pink, slate, olive, brown, and black. Of these hues, the reds against black are the most rare, whereas white and greens are the most common. It varies in optical density from opaque to semi-transparent. For gemstone use, its natural color is often enhanced by placing thin layers of opal on a darker underlying stone, like basalt. Common opal, called "potch" by miners, does not show the display of color exhibited in precious opal.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Opal

    ō′pal, n. a precious stone of a milky hue, remarkable for its changing colours.—n. Opalesc′ence.—adjs. Opalesc′ent, reflecting a milky or pearly light from the interior; O′paline, relating to, or like, opal.—v.t. O′palise. [Fr. opale—L. opalus.]

The Nuttall Encyclopedia

  1. Opal

    a variety of quartz, of which the finest kind, precious opal, is translucent, with blue or yellow tint, and when polished with a convex surface shows an admirable play of colours; it is found chiefly at Cerwenitza, Austria.

Suggested Resources

  1. opal

    The opal symbol -- In this Symbols.com article you will learn about the meaning of the opal symbol and its characteristic.

  2. opal

    Song lyrics by opal -- Explore a large variety of song lyrics performed by opal on the Lyrics.com website.

  3. OPAL

    What does OPAL stand for? -- Explore the various meanings for the OPAL acronym on the Abbreviations.com website.

Etymology and Origins

  1. Opal

    From the Sanskrit opula, through the Latin opalus, a precious stone.

Surnames Frequency by Census Records

  1. OPAL

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Opal is ranked #49999 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

    The Opal surname appeared 419 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 0 would have the surname Opal.

    88% or 369 total occurrences were White.
    5% or 21 total occurrences were of Hispanic origin.
    4.7% or 20 total occurrences were Asian.
    1.4% or 6 total occurrences were of two or more races.

Matched Categories

How to pronounce opal?

How to say opal in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of opal in Chaldean Numerology is: 1

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of opal in Pythagorean Numerology is: 8

Examples of opal in a Sentence

  1. Phil Bell:

    Because these things are exhumed by opal miners, lots of other information is often lost, like their exact position in the mine and any other fossils that were found around it, we know of plenty of cases where a miner has brought up a handful of bones from a single animal. The rest of the thing might have been destroyed in the mining process or sitting in a waste pile at the bottom of the mine.

  2. Maros Sefcovic:

    The Opal dossier is being currently examined and there were some additional questions raised by the Commission, whether we are ready to take a decision or not depends on the completeness of the answers.

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Translations for opal

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"opal." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 26 Feb. 2024. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/opal>.

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