[ graf-ahyt ]
/ ˈgræf aɪt /


a very common mineral, soft native carbon, occurring in black to dark-gray foliated masses, with metallic luster and greasy feel: used for pencil leads, as a lubricant, and for making crucibles and other refractories; plumbago; black lead.


Nearby words

  1. graphicacy,
  2. graphical,
  3. graphical user interface,
  4. graphics,
  5. graphics adapter,
  6. graphite cloth,
  7. graphitic,
  8. graphitize,
  9. grapho-,
  10. graphologic

Origin of graphite

1790–1800; < German Graphit < Greek gráph(ein) to write, draw + German -it -ite1

Related formsgra·phit·ic [gruh-fit-ik] /grəˈfɪt ɪk/, adjectivenon·gra·phit·ic, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for graphite

British Dictionary definitions for graphite


/ (ˈɡræfaɪt) /


a blackish soft allotropic form of carbon in hexagonal crystalline form: used in pencils, crucibles, and electrodes, as a lubricant, as a moderator in nuclear reactors, and, in a carbon fibre form, as a tough lightweight material for sporting equipmentAlso called: plumbago
Derived Formsgraphitic (ɡrəˈfɪtɪk), adjective

Word Origin for graphite

C18: from German Graphit; from Greek graphein to write + -ite 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

Word Origin and History for graphite



1796, from German Graphit "black lead," coined 1789 by German mineralogist Abraham Gottlob Werner (1750-1817) from Greek graphein "write" (see -graphy) + mineral suffix -ite. So called because it was used in pencils. Related: Graphitic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Science definitions for graphite


[ grăfīt′ ]

A naturally occurring, steel-gray to black, crystalline form of carbon. The carbon atoms in graphite are strongly bonded together in sheets. Because the bonds between the sheets are weak, other atoms can easily fit between them, causing graphite to be soft and slippery to the touch. Graphite is used in pencils and paints and as a lubricant and electrode. It is also used to control chain reactions in nuclear reactors because of its ability to absorb neutrons.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.