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[pahy-rahyt] /ˈpaɪ raɪt/
a very common brass-yellow mineral, iron disulfide, FeS 2 , with a metallic luster, burned to sulfur dioxide in the manufacture of sulfuric acid: chemically similar to marcasite, but crystallizing in the isometric system.
Also, pyrites.
Also called iron pyrites.
Origin of pyrite
1560-70; < Latin pyrītēs < Greek pyrī́tēs, noun use of adj.: of fire, so called because it produces sparks when struck. See pyr-, -ite1
Related forms
[pahy-rit-ik, puh-] /paɪˈrɪt ɪk, pə-/ (Show IPA),
pyritical, pyritous
[puh-rahy-tuh s, pahy-] /pəˈraɪ təs, paɪ-/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for pyrite
Historical Examples
  • The principal use of pyrite is in the manufacture of sulphuric acid.

  • Wherever flint and pyrite are to be had these are used for striking fire.

    The Central Eskimo Franz Boas
  • He, however, puts it on one side as merely a synonym for pyrite, nor can it be satisfactorily defined in much better terms.

    De Re Metallica Georgius Agricola
  • Before the war domestic sources supplied a fourth to a third of the domestic demand for pyrite.

  • pyrite, the yellow iron sulphide, is the commonest and most abundant of the metallic sulphides.

  • Marcasite and pyrrhotite, other iron sulphide minerals, are frequently found with pyrite and are used for the same purposes.

  • Even when only a small proportion of mundic, pyrite or marcasite is present, it is highly objectionable for several reasons.

    The Natural History of Clay Alfred B. Searle
  • pyrite, pī′rīt, n. native iron disulphide of a pale-yellow colour and very hard—also Iron pyrites.

  • A few small crystals of pyrite were then placed in the bottle of solution, and the gold began immediately to precipitate on them.

    Getting Gold J. C. F. Johnson
  • The most common petrifying materials are calcite, silica, and pyrite (p. 13).

    The Elements of Geology William Harmon Norton
British Dictionary definitions for pyrite


a yellow mineral, found in igneous and metamorphic rocks and in veins. It is a source of sulphur and is used in the manufacture of sulphuric acid. Composition: iron sulphide. Formula: FeS2. Crystal structure: cubic Also called iron pyrites, pyrites Nontechnical name fool's gold
Derived Forms
pyritic (paɪˈrɪtɪk), pyritous, adjective
Word Origin
C16: from Latin pyrites flint, from Greek puritēs (lithos) fire (stone), that is, capable of withstanding or striking fire, from pur fire
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 pyrite

"metallic iron disulfide, fool's gold," 1550s, from Old French pyrite (12c.), from Latin pyrites, from Greek pyrites lithos "stone of fire, flint" (so called because it glitters), from pyrites "of or in fire," from pyr (genitive pyros) "fire" (see fire (n.)). Related: Pyritic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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pyrite in Science
A silver to yellow, metallic, cubic mineral. Pyrite often crystallizes in cubes or octahedrons but also occurs as shapeless masses of grains. It occurs in most types of rocks, and is used as a source of iron and in making sulfur dioxide. It is a polymorph of marcasite. Because of its shiny look and often yellow color, it is sometimes mistaken for gold and for this reason is also called fool's gold. Chemical formula: FeS2.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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