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  1. 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


  1. a suffix forming adjectives and nouns from adjectives, and from some verbs: composite; opposite; erudite; requisite.

Origin of -ite2

< Latin -itus or -ītus past participle suffix
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
British Dictionary definitions for -ite


suffix forming nouns
  1. a native or inhabitant ofIsraelite
  2. a follower or advocate of; a member or supporter of a groupLuddite; labourite
  3. (in biology) indicating a division of a body or organsomite
  4. indicating a mineral or rocknephrite; peridotite
  5. indicating a commercial productvulcanite

Word Origin

via Latin -ita from Greek -itēs or directly from Greek


suffix forming nouns
  1. indicating a salt or ester of an acid having a name ending in -ousa nitrite is a salt of nitrous acid

Word Origin

from French, arbitrary alteration of -ate 1
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

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

-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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.