Cutting from the dictionary

From the lead of a New York Times article last month, headlined: "A Dream Home Undone by Divorce."

Welcome to home interrupted, Leslie Williams said, opening the door to what appeared to be just the opposite: a bright TriBeCa loft with near-lapidary finishes.

As an adjective, lapidary means:

American Heritage Dictionary:

  • 1. Of or relating to precious stones or the art of working with them.
  • 2a. Engraved in stone.
  • 2b. Marked by conciseness, precision, or refinement of expression: lapidary prose.
  • 2c. Sharply or finely delineated: a face with lapidary features.

Merriam-Webster Online:

  • 1. Having the elegance and precision associated with inscriptions on monumental stone <a stanza that has a lapidary dignity>.
  • 2a. Sculptured in or engraved on stone.
  • 2b. Of, relating to, or suggestive of precious stones or the art of cutting them.

Although most of the definitions seem to center on the idea of cutting, it seems lapidary is being used here in the sense of the first AHD definition, to evoke the idea of polished gems.

Lapidary is also a noun, which the AHD defines as:

  • 1. One who cuts, polishes, or engraves gems.
  • 2. A dealer in precious or semiprecious stones.

The AHD etymology: Middle English lapidarie, from Old French lapidaire, from Latin lapidārius, from lapis, lapid-, stone