O"pal(?), n. [L. opalus: cf. Gr. , Skr. upala a rock, stone, precious stone: cf. F. opale.] (Min.) A mineral consisting, like quartz, of silica, but inferior to quartz in hardness and specific gravity.
The precious opal presents a peculiar play of colors of delicate tints, and is highly esteemed as a gem. One kind, with a varied play of color in a reddish ground, is called the harlequin opal. The fire opal has colors like the red and yellow of flame. Common opal has a milky appearance. Menilite is a brown impure variety, occurring in concretions at Menilmontant, near Paris. Other varieties are cacholong, girasol, hyalite, and geyserite.
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