a very common brass-yellow mineral, iron disulfide, FeS2, 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.

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
Also called iron pyrites.
Related formspy·rit·ic [pahy-rit-ik, puh-] /paɪˈrɪt ɪk, pə-/, py·rit·i·cal, py·ri·tous [puh-rahy-tuh s, pahy-] /pəˈraɪ təs, paɪ-/, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pyrite

Historical Examples of pyrite

  • 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.

  • 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.

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: FeS 2 . Crystal structure: cubicAlso called: iron pyrites, pyrites Nontechnical name: fool's gold
Derived Formspyritic (paɪˈrɪtɪk) or pyritous, adjective

Word Origin for pyrite

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

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

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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.