alabaster (n.)

"translucent, whitish, marble-like mineral used for vases, ornaments, and busts," late 14c., from Old French alabastre (12c., Modern French albâtre), from Latin alabaster "colored rock used to make boxes and vessels for unguents," from later Greek alabastros (earlier albastos) "vase for perfumes," probably a foreign word, perhaps from Egyptian 'a-labaste "vessel of the goddess Bast." Used figuratively for whiteness and smoothness from 1570s. "The spelling in 16-17th c. is almost always alablaster ..." [OED].

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