AskDefine | Define sable

Dictionary Definition

sable adj : dark somewhat brownish black


1 an artist's brush made of sable hair [syn: sable brush, sable's hair pencil]
2 the expensive dark brown fur of the marten
3 a very dark black [syn: coal black, ebony, jet black, pitch black, soot black]
4 a scarf (or trimming) made of sable
5 marten of northern Asian forests having luxuriant dark brown fur [syn: Martes zibellina]

User Contributed Dictionary


Alternative forms


From Old French martre sable "sable marten", an animal (see below). Possibly from an Old Slavonic word; compare with Russian соболь.



  1. A small mammal, related to the marten of Eurasia and North Pacific Islands. Taxonomic name: Martes zibellina.
  2. The marten. Taxonomic name: Mustela americana.
  3. A coat made from the fur of the sable.
  4. An artist's brush made from the fur of the sable.
  5. : A black colour on a coat of arms.
  6. a black colour, like that of sable fur.
    sable colour:   


heraldic colour


  1. of a black colour, like that of sable fur.
    • 2002, Christopher Paolini, Eragon, ch 3
      They wound between the wagons to a tent removed from the rest of the traders'. It was crimson at the top and sable at the bottom, with thin triangles of colors stabbing into each other.
  2. : In blazon, of the colour black.
  3. Made of sable fur.


of black colour on a coat of arms

Derived terms

Related terms

See also


  • Random House Dictionary, 2nd Edition, 1987.



  • [sabl

Etymology 1

Latin sabulum


fr-noun m

Etymology 2

From Old French martre sable "sable marten", an animal. Possibly from an Old Slavonic word; compare with Russian соболь.


fr-noun m
  1. The heraldic colour sable; black.




Extensive Definition

The sable (Martes zibellina) is a small carnivorous mammal, closely related to the martens. It inhabits forest environments primarily in Russia from the Ural Mountains throughout Siberia, in northern Mongolia and China and on Hokkaidō in Japan. Its range in the wild originally extended through European Russia to Poland and Scandinavia. It has historically been harvested for its highly valued fur, which remains a luxury good to this day. While hunting of wild animals is still common in Russia, most fur in the market is now commercially farmed.


The name sable appears to be of Slavic origin and to have entered most Western European via the early medieval fur trade. Thus the Russian and Polish sobol became the German Zobel, Dutch Sabel; the French zibelline Spanish cibelina, cebellina, Finnish soopeli and Mediaeval Latin zibellina derive from the Italian form. The English and Medieval Latin word sabellum comes from the Old French sable or saible.
The term has become a generic description for some black-furred animal breeds, such as sable cats or rabbits.

Physical Appearance

Males weigh 880-1800 grams and have body length between 380-560 mm, with relatively long tails between 90-120 mm. Males are somewhat larger than females (700-1560 grams, 350-510 mm). Winter pelage is longer and thicker than their summer coat. Coloration varies in color from tan to black. The collapse of the Soviet Union led to an increase of hunting and poaching in the 1990s, in part because wild caught Russian furs are considered the most luxurious and demand the highest prices on the international market. Currently, the species has no special conservation status according to the IUCN, though the isolated Japanese subspecies M. zibellina brachyurus is listed as "data-deficient".
Because of its great expense, sable fur is typically integrated into various clothes fashions: to decorate collars, sleeves, hems and hats (see, for example the shtreimel). The so-called Kolinsky sable-hair brushes used for watercolor or oil painting are not manufactured from sable hair, but from that of the siberian weasel.
sable in Breton: Sebelinez
sable in Catalan: Martes zibellina
sable in Yakut: Киис
sable in Danish: Zobel
sable in German: Zobel
sable in Spanish: Martes zibellina
sable in Esperanto: Zibelo
sable in French: Zibeline
sable in Ido: Zibelino
sable in Italian: Martes zibellina
sable in Hebrew: צובל
sable in Lithuanian: Sabalas
sable in Dutch: Sabelmarter
sable in Japanese: クロテン
sable in Norwegian: Sobel
sable in Polish: Soból
sable in Portuguese: Zibelina
sable in Russian: Соболь
sable in Serbian: Собољ
sable in Finnish: Soopeli
sable in Swedish: Sobel
sable in Turkish: Samur
sable in Ukrainian: Соболь
sable in Yiddish: צאבעל
sable in Chinese: 紫貂

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

achievement, alerion, animal charge, annulet, argent, armorial bearings, armory, arms, atramentous, azure, bandeau, bar, bar sinister, baton, bearings, bend, bend sinister, billet, black, black as coal, black as ebony, black as ink, black as midnight, black as night, black race, blackness, blazon, blazonry, bordure, broad arrow, cadency mark, canton, chaplet, charge, chevron, chief, coal-black, coaly, coat of arms, cockatrice, coronet, crescent, crest, cross, cross moline, crown, dark, dark as night, dark as pitch, darkness, deep black, device, difference, differencing, dusky, eagle, ebon, ebony, ermine, ermines, erminites, erminois, escutcheon, falcon, fess, fess point, field, file, flanch, fleur-de-lis, fret, fur, fusil, garland, gloomy, griffin, gules, gyron, hatchment, helmet, heraldic device, honor point, impalement, impaling, inescutcheon, ink-black, inkiness, inky, jet, jetty, label, lion, lozenge, mantling, marshaling, martlet, mascle, melanism, metal, midnight, motto, mullet, murky, night-black, night-dark, nigrescence, nigritude, nigrous, nombril point, octofoil, or, ordinary, orle, pale, paly, pean, pheon, pitch-black, pitch-dark, pitchy, purpure, quarter, quartering, raven, raven-black, rose, saltire, scutcheon, shield, sloe, sloe-black, sloe-colored, somber, spread eagle, subordinary, tar-black, tarry, tenne, tincture, torse, tressure, unicorn, vair, vert, wreath, yale
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1