• synonyms


noun Geology.
  1. a reddish ferruginous soil formed in tropical regions by the decomposition of the underlying rocks.
  2. a similar soil formed of materials deposited by water.
  3. any soil produced by the decomposition of the rocks beneath it.
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Origin of laterite

1800–10; < Latin later brick, tile + -ite1
Related formslat·er·it·ic [lat-uh-rit-ik] /ˌlæt əˈrɪt ɪk/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for laterite

Historical Examples

  • On the top of these tables are here and there little conical elevations of laterite, or indurated iron clay.

    Rambles and Recollections of an Indian Official

    William Sleeman

  • It contains a large ruined tank with laterite steps, and a number of tombs of wealthy Jain merchants.

  • Several of them are elaborate buildings with massive stone roofs, and are surrounded by laterite enclosures.

  • Laterite, lat′ėr-īt, n. an argillaceous sandstone of a reddish or brick colour found in India, esp.

  • This grass grows in open somewhat dry loamy and laterite soils in the East Coast districts.

    A Handbook of Some South Indian Grasses

    Rai Bahadur K. Ranga Achariyar

British Dictionary definitions for laterite


  1. any of a group of deposits consisting of residual insoluble deposits of ferric and aluminium oxides: formed by weathering of rocks in tropical regions
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Derived Formslateritic (ˌlætəˈrɪtɪk), adjective

Word Origin

C19: from Latin later brick, tile
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

laterite in Science


  1. A red, porous, claylike soil formed by the leaching of silica-rich components and enrichment of aluminum and iron hydroxides. They are especially common in humid climates. Laterites that are poor in iron oxides and rich in aluminum oxides are called bauxites. Also called latosol See more at bauxite.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.