Amber
Amber Am"ber ([a^]m"b[~e]r), n. [OE. aumbre, F. ambre, Sp. ['a]mbar, and with the Ar. article, al['a]mbar, fr. Ar. 'anbar ambergris.] 1. (Min.) A yellowish translucent resin resembling copal, found as a fossil in alluvial soils, with beds of lignite, or on the seashore in many places. It takes a fine polish, and is used for pipe mouthpieces, beads, etc., and as a basis for a fine varnish. By friction, it becomes strongly electric. [1913 Webster]

Note: Amber is classified as a fossil resin, being typically of ancient origin, having solidified from the exudates of certain trees millions of years ago. Many pieces are found with insects embedded, the insects having been trapped by the resin while they were alive. The insects are often very well preserved, due to the antimicrobial action of components of the amber. It typically contains from 5 to 8 percent of succinic acid. "Baltic amber" has been mined for centuries in the region of Poland formerly called East Prussia, and is the variety used in most jewelry made in Poland and Russia. The Baltic strata containing amber extend under the sea, and amber beads may be found there deposited by waves along the shore. Amber was known to the ancient Greeks. The name "electron" comes from the Latin word for amber, electrum, derived from the Greek word, 'h`lektron (see {electric}), due to the electric charge that amber takes when rubbed, as with cat fur. Although at one time used in fine varnishes, it no longer has any commercial value for that purpose, being used mostly in jewelry. Significant deposits are also found in the Carribean region, and smaller amounts in various other places. The notion, that DNA sufficiently intact to recreate extinct animals might be extracted from amber, was the basis for Michael Crichton's novel "Jurassic Park", but has as yet (1997) not been demonstrated to be possible. [PJC]

2. Amber color, or anything amber-colored; a clear light yellow; as, the amber of the sky. [1913 Webster]

3. Ambergris. [Obs.] [1913 Webster]

You that smell of amber at my charge. --Beau. & Fl. [1913 Webster]

4. The balsam, liquidambar. [1913 Webster]

{Black amber}, and old and popular name for jet. [1913 Webster]


The Collaborative International Dictionary of English. 2000.

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