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Where Does The Phrase Jet-black Come From?

Ever wondered?

A lot of people have jet-black hair, or a dog whose coat shines like polished jet in the sunlight. But what does the phrase jet-black actually mean?

Jet is a type of minor gemstone, also known as lignite, or black amber. It has a luxurious deep black colour, although it can also be found in a dark brown variety.

Jet is made from wood that has been subjected to pressure and heat for millions of years, and some can be over 100 million years old.

Today jet is not very well known, which is why the phrase “jet-black” is not understood literally by a lot of people. However, this gemstone was far more popular in Victorian times, and even formed part of Queen Victoria’s mourning dress. Throughout history, jet has traditionally been used to make rosaries for monks.

So next time you hear the phrase “jet-black” you’ll know it has nothing to do with jet planes or jet skis! Incidentally, the word “jet” when referring to planes or jet skis comes from the French word “jeter” for “to throw” or “to thrust”, which refered to describing the method of propulsion (jet propulsion/ jet engines) these methods of transportation use.

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User Comments
  1. lapasan

    On November 20, 2010 at 3:26 am

    nice information.

  2. john smither

    On November 20, 2010 at 3:49 am

    Interesting article, thanks for sharing.

  3. Kuru Tsu

    On November 20, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Nice to know. Thanks!

  4. Suni51

    On November 20, 2010 at 9:07 am

    very interesting share.

  5. lillyrose

    On November 20, 2010 at 9:20 am

    Great post! Jet is very beautiful and small pieces of it can be found along with fossils on our Yorkshire coast.

  6. BluSphere

    On November 21, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Very informative. Thanks for sharing :)
    Thought I’ve never heard of this phrase, I now know about it.


  7. Madan

    On November 21, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    nice info.thanks

  8. Ken Gack

    On November 23, 2010 at 7:03 pm

    Interesting – great read.
    - Ken

  9. yes me

    On November 28, 2010 at 7:15 am

    A good share this one cheers

  10. 3cardmonte

    On December 2, 2010 at 8:38 am

    Very interesting. It’s always fascinating to see the word that another is derived from.

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