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[bel-uh m-nahyt] /ˈbɛl əmˌnaɪt/
noun, Paleontology.
a conical fossil, several inches long, consisting of the internal calcareous rod of an extinct animal allied to the cuttlefish; a thunderstone.
Origin of belemnite
1640-50; < French bélemnite, equivalent to Greek bélemn(on) a dart (noun derivative from base of bállein to throw) + French -ite -ite1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for belemnite
Historical Examples
  • Cerau′nite, a belemnite; Cerau′noscope, an apparatus for imitating thunder and lightning in ancient mysteries.

  • Here is a piece of belemnite in limestone, and the fracture in the fossil presents the usual glistening planes of cleavage.

  • The ink-bags of the belemnite also are sometimes preserved, and we see how it could balk a pursuer by darkening the waters.

    The Story of Evolution Joseph McCabe
  • The wonderful shell-fishes of the Ammonite group, and the cuttle-fishes of the belemnite type, share the same fate.

    The Chain of Life in Geological Time Sir J. William Dawson
  • The very form of the belemnite at once suggests the notion of a dart or lance-head, which has gained for it its scientific name.

    Falling in Love Grant Allen
  • No species of belemnite at present known agreeing with the description; it is supposed to have been taken from a broken specimen.

    A Conchological Manual George Brettingham Sowerby
  • De Montfort's figure of this genus appears as if it had been drawn from the nucleus of a belemnite.

    A Conchological Manual George Brettingham Sowerby
  • As a genus it holds a place intermediate between the Cuttle-fish and the belemnite.

  • They are dark marly bands, in which a belemnite, Actinocamax plenus, is found.

  • It is the fossil commonly called the belemnite, or finger-stone, and now known to be a shell.

    Folk-lore of Shakespeare Thomas Firminger Thiselton-Dyer
British Dictionary definitions for belemnite


any extinct marine cephalopod mollusc of the order Belemnoidea, related to the cuttlefish
the long pointed conical internal shell of any of these animals: a common Mesozoic fossil
Word Origin
C17: from Greek belemnon dart
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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belemnite in Science
  1. Any of various extinct cephalopod mollusks of the order Belemnoidea that lived from the Triassic into the Tertiary Period. Belemnites had a large, cone-shaped internal shell with a complex structure that served as a support for muscles and as a hydrostatic device. Belemnites were closely related to the present-day squids and cuttlefishes.

  2. The fossilized internal shell of one of these cephalopods. Belemnites are used as index fossils.

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