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a suffix of nouns denoting especially persons associated with a place, tribe, leader, doctrine, system, etc. (Campbellite; Israelite; laborite); minerals and fossils (ammonite; anthracite); explosives (cordite; dynamite); chemical compounds, especially salts of acids whose names end in -ous (phosphite; sulfite); pharmaceutical and commercial products (vulcanite); a member or component of a part of the body (somite).
Compare -itis.
Origin of -ite1
Middle English < Latin -ita < Greek -itēs; often directly < Greek; in some words representing French -ite, German -it, etc. < Latin < Greek, as above


a suffix forming adjectives and nouns from adjectives, and from some verbs:
composite; opposite; erudite; requisite.
< Latin -itus or -ītus past participle suffix Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for -ite


a native or inhabitant of: Israelite
a follower or advocate of; a member or supporter of a group: Luddite, labourite
(in biology) indicating a division of a body or organ: somite
indicating a mineral or rock: nephrite, peridotite
indicating a commercial product: vulcanite
Word Origin
via Latin -ita from Greek -itēs or directly from Greek


indicating a salt or ester of an acid having a name ending in -ous: a nitrite is a salt of nitrous acid
Word Origin
from French, arbitrary alteration of -ate1
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for -ite

from French -ite and directly from Latin -ita, from Greek -ites (fem. -itis), forming adjectives and nouns meaning "connected with or belonging to." Especially used in classical times to form ethnic and local designations (e.g. use in Septuagint for Hebrew names in -i) and for names of gems and minerals.


salt suffix, from French -ite, alteration of -ate (see -ate (3)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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-ite in Medicine

-ite 1

  1. A part of an organ, body, or bodily part: somite.

  2. Product: metabolite.

-ite 2
A salt or ester of an acid named with an adjective ending in -ous: sulfite.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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-ite in Science
  1. A suffix used to form the names of minerals, such as hematite and malachite.

  2. A suffix used to form the name of a salt or ester of a specified acid whose name ends in -ous. Such salts or esters have one oxygen atom fewer than corresponding salts or esters with names ending in -ate. For example, a nitrite is a salt of nitrous acid and contains the group NO2, while a nitrate contains NO3. Compare -ate.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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