AskDefine | Define ebony

Dictionary Definition

ebony adj : very dark black [syn: ebon]


1 a very dark black [syn: coal black, jet black, pitch black, sable, soot black]
2 hard dark-colored heartwood of the ebony tree; used in cabinetwork and for piano keys
3 tropical tree of southern Asia having hard dark-colored heartwood used in cabinetwork [syn: Diospyros ebenum]

User Contributed Dictionary

see Ebony



Going back to the Greek, based on the Ancient Egyptian hbny. See ebon


  1. A hard, heavy, deep black wood from various subtropical and tropical trees, especially of the genus Diospyros.
  2. A tree that yields such wood.
  3. (colour) A deep, dark black colour.
    ebony colour:   




  1. made of ebony
  2. a deep, dark black colour.
    ebony colour:   


made of ebony

See also

Extensive Definition

Ebony (Diospyros ebenum), also known as India Ebony or Ceylon Ebony depending on its origin, is a tree in the genus Diospyros, native to southern India and Sri Lanka. It is noted for its heavy black, fine-grained heartwood. It is a medium-sized evergreen, reaching 20–25 m tall. The leaves are entire, about 6–15 cm long and 3–5 cm broad. The fruit is a small berry 2 cm diameter, similar to a small persimmon. This slow growing tree is native to dry and intermediate zones.
Ebony heartwood is one of the most intensely black woods known, which, combined with its very high density (it is one of the very few woods that sink in water), fine texture, and ability to polish very smoothly, has made it very valuable as an ornamental wood.


Ebony has a long history of use, with carved pieces having been found in Ancient Egyptian tombs. The word "ebony" derives from the Ancient Egyptian hbny, via the Greek έβενος (ebenos), by way of Latin and Middle English.
By the end of the 16th century, fine cabinets for the luxury trade were made of ebony in Antwerp. The dense hardness lent itself to refined moldings framing finely detailed pictorial panels with carving in very low relief (bas-relief), usually of allegorical subjects, or scenes taken from classical or Christian history. Within a short time, such cabinets were also being made in Paris, where their makers became known as ébénistes, which remains the French term for a cabinetmaker.
Modern uses are largely restricted to small sizes, particularly in musical instrument making, including piano and harpsichord keys, violin, oboe, guitar, and cello fingerboards, endpieces, pegs and chinrests. Traditionally, black piano and harpsichord keys were ebony, and the black pieces in chess sets were made from ebony, with rare boxwood being used for the white pieces. Modern east Midlands-style lace-making bobbins, also being small, are often made of ebony and look particularly decorative when bound with brass or silver wire. Due to its strength, many handgun grips are made of Ebony as well.
In Dakshina Kannada and Udupi districts of Karnataka, the tree is called Karmara in the native Tulu language. Ebony tree forests which once covered large areas of these districts have shrunk significantly due to rapid urbanization. The wood of ebony is used as firewood, as it can burn even in moist conditions.
As a result of unsustainable harvesting, many species of ebony are now considered threatened.
Ebony is now also a common name in Africa and several parts of northern Europe and America .


External links

ebony in Arabic: أبنوس
ebony in Bulgarian: Абанос
ebony in Danish: Ibenholt
ebony in German: Ebenholz
ebony in Estonian: Must eebenipuu
ebony in Spanish: Diospyros_ebenum
ebony in Esperanto: Ebono
ebony in Persian: آبنوس
ebony in French: Ébène
ebony in Korean: 흑단
ebony in Italian: Ebano
ebony in Georgian: აბანოზი
ebony in Hungarian: Ébenfa
ebony in Dutch: Ebben
ebony in Japanese: コクタン
ebony in Norwegian: Ibenholt
ebony in Polish: Heban
ebony in Portuguese: Ébano
ebony in Romanian: Abanos
ebony in Finnish: Eebenpuu
ebony in Swedish: Ebenholtz
ebony in Turkish: Abanoz
ebony in Thai: ตะโก

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

acacia, ailanthus, alder, alligator pear, allspice, almond, apple, apricot, ash, aspen, atramentous, avocado, balsa, balsam, banyan, bass, basswood, bay, bayberry, beamless, beech, beechwood, betel palm, birch, black, black as coal, black as ebony, black as ink, black as midnight, black as night, black race, blackness, buckeye, burl, butternut, buttonwood, cacao, caliginous, candleberry, cashew, cassia, catalpa, charcoal, cherry, chestnut, chinquapin, cinnamon, citron, clove, coal, coal-black, coaly, coconut, cork, cork oak, crow, cypress, dark, dark as night, dark as pitch, darkling, darkness, darksome, deep black, dogwood, ebon, eclipsed, elder, elm, eucalyptus, fig, fir, frankincense, grapefruit, guava, gum, gumwood, hawthorn, hazel, hemlock, henna, hickory, holly, hop tree, horse chestnut, ink, ink-black, inkiness, inky, ironwood, jet, jetty, juniper, kumquat, laburnum, lancewood, larch, laurel, lemon, lime, linden, litchi, litchi nut, locust, logwood, magnolia, mahogany, mango, mangrove, maple, medlar, melanism, midnight, mountain ash, mulberry, night, night-black, night-clad, night-cloaked, night-dark, night-enshrouded, night-filled, night-mantled, night-veiled, nigrescence, nigritude, nigrous, nutmeg, oak, obfuscated, obscure, obscured, occulted, olive, orange, palm, papaw, papaya, peach, pear, pecan, persimmon, pine, pistachio, pitch, pitch-black, pitch-dark, pitchy, plane, plum, pomegranate, poplar, quince, raffia palm, rain tree, raven, raven-black, rayless, redwood, sable, sandalwood, sassafras, senna, sequoia, sloe, sloe-black, sloe-colored, smoke, smut, soot, spruce, starless, sumac, sunless, sycamore, tangerine, tar, tar-black, tarry, teak, tenebrious, tenebrose, tenebrous, tulip tree, unilluminated, unlighted, unlit, walnut, willow, witch hazel, yew
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