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[lig-nahyt] /ˈlɪg naɪt/
a soft coal, usually dark brown, often having a distinct woodlike texture, and intermediate in density and carbon content between peat and bituminous coal.
Origin of lignite
First recorded in 1800-10; lign- + -ite1
Related forms
[lig-nit-ik] /lɪgˈnɪt ɪk/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for lignite
Historical Examples
  • The colour was buff, and there were seams of coal and lignite in places.

    A Canyon Voyage Frederick S. Dellenbaugh
  • Or we might incorporate him into that burnin' lignite bed over in the butte.

    Yellowstone Nights Herbert Quick
  • It is certainly the case that the future possibilities of lignite should not be overlooked.

    A Revision of the Treaty John Maynard Keynes
  • Reptilian fossils are found in both the lignite and the intervening layers of rock.

    North Dakota Various
  • How long the lignite bed has been burning underground is not known.

    North Dakota Various
  • In the steep sides of the lake valley nearby are a number of lignite mines.

    North Dakota Various
  • The coal is of the lignite variety and disintegrates rapidly.

    With the Battle Fleet Franklin Matthews
  • This is a fossil resin, or gum, and may often be found in lignite beds.

    The A B C of Mining Charles A. Bramble
  • lignite or brown coal may contain only 50 per cent of carbon.

  • But that lignite, as you call it, was so sure low-grade that they jest laughed at me.

    The Boy With the U.S. Miners Francis Rolt-Wheeler
British Dictionary definitions for lignite


a brown carbonaceous sedimentary rock with woody texture that consists of accumulated layers of partially decomposed vegetation: used as a fuel. Fixed carbon content: 46–60 per cent; calorific value: 1.28 × 107 to 1.93 × 107 J/kg (5500 to 8300 Btu/lb) Also called brown coal
Derived Forms
lignitic (lɪɡˈnɪtɪk) adjective
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 lignite

"imperfectly formed coal," 1808, from French, from Latin lignum "wood" (see ligni-). Brown coal that still shows traces of the wood it once was. Probably directly from Lithanthrax Lignius, name given to woody coal by Swedish chemist Johan Gottschalk Wallerius (1709-1785) in 1775.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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lignite in Science
A soft, brownish-black form of coal having more carbon than peat but less carbon than bituminous coal. Lignite is easy to mine but does not burn as well as other forms of coal. It is a greater polluter than bituminous coal because it has a higher sulphur content. Compare anthracite, bituminous coal.

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