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  1. Metallurgy. a microscopic lamellar structure found in iron or steel, composed of alternating layers of ferrite and cementite.
  2. Petrography. perlite.

Origin of pearlite

First recorded in 1885–90; pearl1 + -ite1
Related formspearl·it·ic [pur-lit-ik] /pɜrˈlɪt ɪk/, adjective


or pearl·ite

noun Petrography.
  1. a volcanic glass in which concentric fractures impart a distinctive structure resembling masses of small spheroids, used as a plant growth medium.

Origin of perlite

From French, dating back to 1825–35; see origin at pearl1, -ite1
Related formsper·lit·ic [pur-lit-ik] /pɜrˈlɪt ɪk/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for pearlite

Historical Examples

  • The iron thus liberated, as the ferrite of this pearlite, changes simultaneously to α-ferrite.

    Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 14, Slice 7


  • The magnification is too small to show the zebra striping of the pearlite.

  • Several other ingredients of importance, as pearlite, illustrated on the opposite page, have also been studied.

British Dictionary definitions for pearlite


  1. the lamellar structure in carbon steels and some cast irons that consists of alternate plates of pure iron and iron carbide
  2. a variant spelling of perlite
Derived Formspearlitic (pɜːˈlɪtɪk), adjective



  1. a variety of obsidian consisting of masses of small pearly globules: used as a filler, insulator, and soil conditioner
Derived Formsperlitic or pearlitic (pɜːˈlɪtɪk), adjective

Word Origin

C19: from French, from perle pearl 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