Origin of mineral names




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EA 2002-03

Origin of mineral names.


List from web site of Peter Harben and Associates, industrial mineral consultants. If interested industrial minerals this is a good site for books etc.


Mineral/rock

Derived from or for 

Actinolite

Greek actino = ray and lithos = stone in reference to its occurrence in bundles of radiating needles

Agalmatolite

Greek algalma = image and lithos = stone as it was carved by the Chinese

Agate

locality at the River Achates, now Drillo in Sicily, where it was originally found

Aggregate

Latin aggregatus = to lead to a flock, add to

Akageneite

locality at Akagame mine, Iwate Prefecture, Japan

Alabandite

locality at Alabanda in Caria, Asia Minor

Alabaster

ancient ointment jars called alabastra and perhaps Alabastron in Egypt; alternatively from Egyptian a-la-baste = ship of the Goddess Ebaste = Bubaste

Albite

Latin albus = white, for its color

Alexandrite

Czar Alexander II (1818-1881) of Russia

Allanite

Thomas Allan (1777-1833), Scottish mineralogist and first observer

Almandine (garnet)

Alabanda, Asia Minor, where garnets were cut and polished

Aluminum

Latin alumen = alum, original name for natural aluminum sulfate

Alunite

Latin alumen = alum (see above) and French alun = alum

Amazonite

locality at Amazon River, South America

Amber

French ambre from Arabic anbar = ambergris (now obsolete)

Amblygonite

Greek amblys = dull, obtuse and gonia = angle, in reference to cleavage angle

Amethyst

Latin amethystus and Greek amethystos = not drunken as the stone and plant was thought to orevent intoxication

Amosite

acronym of Asbestos Mines of South Africa

Analcime

Greek analkis = without strength due to its weak electrical properties when heated or rubbed

Anatase

Greek anatasis = extension because of the greater length of the common pyramid as compared with other tetragonal minerals

Andradite (garnet)

J.B.d'Andrada e Silva (1763-1838), Brazilian mineralogist and first observer

Anhydrite

Greek anhydros = dry or without water

Anorthite

Greek for not straight, because of its triclinic symmetry

Antimony 

Latin from Greek anti = against plus monos = a metal seldom found alone

Andalusite

locality at Andalusia, Spain

Anthophyllite

neo-Latin anthophyllum = clove for its brown color, Greek lithos = stone

Apatite

Greek apate = deceit since it was often mistaken for other minerals

Aphthitalite

Greek aphthitos = unchangeable or indestructible, alis = salt, and lithos = stone since it is very stable in air

Aquamarine

Latin aqua marina = seawater alluding to its pale bluish-green color

Aragonite

locality at Aragon, Spain, where it was first identified

Arcanite

Medieval Latin alchemical name, Arcanum duplicatum = double secret

Asbestos

Latin and Greek asbestos = inextinguishable alluding to its early uses as a wick

Ascherite

a.k.a Szaibelyle 

Atacamite

locality at Atacama Desert, Chile

Attapulgite

locality at Attapulgus, Georgia, USA

Axinite

Greek axine = ax in reference to its wedge-shaped crystals

Azoproit

Russian title for the International Association for the Study of Deep Zones of the Earth's Crust (AZOPRO) since it was found during the preparation of a guidebook for the Association's meeting in Baikal in 1969

Baddeleyite

Joseph Baddeley who brought the original specimens from Sri Lanka

Ball clay

from the tradition of rolling the clay to the cart and thus forming a "ball" weighing 13-22 kg (30-50 lb) with a diameter of about 25 cm (10 inches)

Barite

Greek barys = heavy or dense

Barylite

Greek barys = heavy or dense, lithos = stone

Bassanite 

locality at Basset group of mines, Redruth, Cornwall, England

Bastnaesite

locality at Bastnäs, Vastmanland, Sweden

Bauxite

locality at Les Baux, near Arles, France where it was discovered by P. Berthierin 

Beidellite 

locality at Beidell, Colorado

Bementite

Clarence Sweet Bement (1843-1923), American machine tool manufacturer from Philadelphia; collector of coins, books, and minerals

Benstonite 

for O.J. Benston (1901- ), American ore dressing metallurgist, National Lead Company, Malvern, AR, who provided specimens for initial study

Bentonite

for the Benton Shale named for Fort Benton, Montana, United States (originally named Taylorite for Taylor Ranch, the site of the first mine near Rock River, Wyoming, which opened in 1888)

Bertrandite

Marcel Alexandre Bertrand (1847-1907), French mineralogist

Beryl

Greek beryllos of uncertain etymology applied to beryl and green gems

Beryllium

beryl (see above), the mineral from which it was isolated

Bikitaite

locality at Bikita, Zimbabwe

Biotite

Jean Baptiste Biot (1774-1862), French physicist who studied its optical aspects 

Birnessite

locality at Birness, Scotland

Bischofite

Gustav Bischof (1792-1870), German chemist and geologist

Bixbyite

Maynard Bixby of Salt Lake City, UT, who compiled a catalog of Utah minerals

Blanc fixe

French blanc = white and fixe = settled referring to the barium sulfate precipitate 

Bloedite

Carl August Bloede (1773-1820), German chemist

Boehmite

Johannes Böhm (1857-1938), German geologist and first observer

Boracite

derived from borax (see below). A.k.a. 

Borax

Persian burah and Arabic buraq, both old names for the mineral. A.k.a. tincal.

Bradleyite

Wilmot Hyde Bradley (b. 1899), American geologist, USGS

Brannerite

John Casper Branner (1850-1922), American geologist

Braunite

Kammerath Braun, of Gotha, Germany

Brazilianite

Brazil, where the mineral was first found

Bromine

Greek bromos = stench in reference to its characteristic odor

Bromargyrite

Greek bromos = stench and argyros = silver alluding to to composition

Brookite

Henry James Brooke (1771-1857), English mineralogist

Brucite

Archibald Bruce (1777-1818), American mineralogist and first observer

Brüggenite

Juan Brüggen (1887-1953), Chilean geologist

Burkeite

William Edmund Burke (1980-), American chemical engineer

Cahnite

Lazard Cahn (1865-1940), American mineral collector who first recognized the mineral in Franklin, New Jersey.

Cairngorm

locality at Cairngorm, southwest of Banff, Scotland

Calcite

Latin calx, calcis = lime; this is the same origin for chalk and limestone

Carnallite

Rudolph von Carnall (1804-1874), Prussian mining engineer, Greek lithos = stone

Celestite

Latin caelestis = heavenly for its faint blue color

Cement

Old French ciment from Latin caementum = chip of stone used to fill up in building a wall

Cerite/Cerium

after Ceris, an asteroid discovered in 1803

Chabazite (zeolite)

Greek chabazios or chalazios, an ancient name of a stone celebrated in a poem ascribed to Orpheus

Chalcedony

from Chalcedon or Calchedon, an ancient maritime city of Bithynia on the Sea of Marmara in modern Turkey

Chalcophanite

Greek chalcos = copper and to appear refering to the change of color on ignition

Chalcopyrite

Greek chalcos = copper and its similarity with pyrite.

Chaistolite (variety of andalusite)

Greek chiastos = marked with a chi (x) and lithos = stone alluding to the cross exhibited in transverse sections

China clay

commercial term for kaolin which was named for Kau-ling in China

Chiolite

Greek = snow alluding to its appearance and similarity to cryolite (ice)

Chlorite

Greek chloros = light green in reference to its color

Chromite

Greek chroma = a color for the brilliant hues of its compounds

Chrysoberyl

Greek chrysos = golden or yellow plus beryllos = beryl 

Chrysolite

Greek chrysos = golden or yellow plus lithos = stone

Chrysoprase

Greek chrysos = golden or yellow plus prason = leek alluding to green color

Chrysotile

Greek chrysotos = guilded in reference to its color and nature

Citrine

Latin citrus or French citron = lemon in reference to its yellow color

Clinoenstatite

Greek klinein = to bend or slope (monoclinic diomorph) of enstates = an adversary because of its refractory nature 

Clinoptilolite

Greek klinein = to bend or slope, monoclinic Greek for wing or down alluding to its light nature, and lithos = stone 

Colemanite

William Tell Coleman (1824-1893), a borate developer in California 

Cordierite

Pierre Louis A. Cordier (1777-1861), French mining engineer & geologist

Coronadite

for Francisco Vasquez de Coronado (ca. 1500-1554), Spanish explorer of SW America

Corundum

Hindi kurund, or the Tamil kurundam, describing a native stone of India

Crandallite

Milan L. Crandell Jr., American engineer, Knight Syndicate, Provo, Utah and Greek lithos = stone

Cristobalite

Cerro San Cristóbal near Pachuca, Mexico and Greek lithos = stone

Crocidolite

Greek krokis or krokidos = the nap on cloth and lithos = stone 

Cryolite

Greek kryos = cold, frost and lithos = stone for its icy appearance

Cryptomelane

Greek kryptos = hidden, secret and melas = black in reference to the difficulty of identifying it as a species and its color

Danburite

locality at Danbury, Connecticut

D' Ansite

Jean D' Ans (1881- ), German chemist, professor, Berlin

Darapskite

for Ludwig Darapsky (1857-?), mineralogist and chemist from Santiago, Chile

Datolite

Greek = to divide due to granular character of some varieties

Dawsonite

John William Dawson (1820-1899), Canadian geologist, principal of McGill University, Montreal, Canada

Diamond

Latin adamas = unconquerable or invincible; first used in Manilius (AD 16)

Diaspore

Greek dia = through and speirein = to scatter in reference to its characteristic decrepitation on heating

Dickite

Allan Brugh Dick (1833-1926), Scottish metallurgical chemist

Diatomite

Latin from Greek dia = through and tome = cutting in reference to the two generally symmetrical valves of the single-cell diatom

Dietzeite

August Dietze (?-1893?), who first described the mineral

Diopside

Greek diopsis = to view through since it is usually transparent

Dolomite

Deodat Guy Silvain Tancrède Gratet de Dolomieu, French geologist 

Dumortierite

Eugène Dumortier (1802-1873), French paleontologist

Dunite

named for its type locality at Dun Mountain, Nelson, New Zealand

Dysprosium

Greek dysprositos = hard to get at in reference to the difficulty of separation

Embolite

Greek embole = insert and lithos = stone since it contains both the chloride and bromide of silver

Emerald

Latin smaragdus and Greek smaragdos = emerald, probably of Semitic origin; ancient name applied to a variety of green minerals

Emery

French emeri, Italian smeriglio, and Greek smiris or smeris; akin to the Greek myron = urgent

Epsomite

locality at Epsom, a town near London, England

Erionite (zeolite)

Greek erion = wool alluding to its white wool-like appearance

Euclase

Greek eu = good, well and klasis = a breaking due to its easy cleavage

Eucryplite

Greek eu = good, and concealed due to its mode of occurrence embedded in albite

Eudialyte 

Greek eu = good, well and dialytos = capable of dissolution

Eudidymite

Greek eu = good, well and twin, due to the twinned crystal

Eugsterite  

N.A. 

(Fritzshe's salt)




Europium

Continent of Europe named for Europa, daughter of a king of Phoenicia

Euxenite

Greek for friendly to strangers or hospitable referring to the rare-earth elements it contains

Faujasite (zeolite)

Barthélemy Faujas de Saint Fond (1741-1819), French geologist

Fayalite

locality at Fayal Island in the Azores and Greek lithos = stone

Feitknechtite

for Walter Feitknecht (1899- ), University of Bern, who first synthesized the compound

Feldspar

Swedish feldt or fält = field and spat = spar, for the spar in the tilled fields overlying granite
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