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[nahys] /naɪs/
a metamorphic rock, generally made up of bands that differ in color and composition, some bands being rich in feldspar and quartz, others rich in hornblende or mica.
Origin of gneiss
Borrowed into English from German around 1750-60
Related forms
gneissic, adjective
Can be confused
gneiss, nice (see usage note at nice) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for gneissic


any coarse-grained metamorphic rock that is banded and foliated: represents the last stage in the metamorphism of rocks before melting
Derived Forms
gneissic, gneissoid, gneissose, adjective
Word Origin
C18: from German Gneis, probably from Middle High German ganeist spark; related to Old Norse gneista to give off sparks
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 gneissic



1757, from German Gneiss "type of metamorphic rock," probably from Middle High German gneist "spark" (so called because the rock glitters), from Old High German gneisto "spark" (cf. Old English gnast "spark," Old Norse gneisti).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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gneissic in Science
A highly foliated, coarse-grained metamorphic rock consisting of light-colored layers, usually of quartz and feldspar, alternating with dark-colored layers of other minerals, usually hornblende and biotite. Individual grains are often visible between layers. Gneiss forms as the result of the regional metamorphism of igneous, sedimentary, or other metamorphic rocks.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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