al·​ex·​an·​drite ˌa-lig-ˈzan-ˌdrīt How to pronounce alexandrite (audio)
: a grass-green chrysoberyl that shows a red color by transmitted or artificial light

Examples of alexandrite in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Although it is still mined in Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, and Brazil and the color changes of alexandrite can be as dramatic as deep green to majestic purple, most June babies still will choose pearl or moonstone. Beth Bernstein, Forbes, 1 June 2021

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'alexandrite.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from German Alexandrit, from Alexander Nicolajewitsch (Russian Aleksandr Nikolaevič, Romanov heir to the Russian throne, later the tsar Alexander II †1881) + -it -ite entry 1

Note: As recounted in the first detailed published description of the mineral by the Finnish mineralogist Nils Gustaf Nordenskiöld (1792-1866), the gemstone was named in honor of Aleksandr Nikolaevič, it having been discovered in the Urals on his sixteenth birthday (April 17, 1834, old style) (see Schriften der in St. Petersburg gestifteten Russisch-Kaiserlichen Gesellschaft für die gesammte Mineralogie, 1. Band, 1. Abtheilung, St. Petersburg, 1842, pp. cxvi-cxxvi). According to a story promulgated on the website (and copied in Wikipedia, as of 4/30/2019), the stone was considered an emerald until its color-changing property was first discovered by Nordenskiöld, who initially wished to name it "diaphanite"; he was allegedly overruled by the imperial official Count Lev Alekseevič Perovskij, who insisted on alexandrite. The details of this story are either demonstrably false or undocumented, and it should probably be considered apocryphal (see Karl Schmetzer and George Bosshart, Russian Alexandrites/Russkie aleksandrity, Stuttgart, Schweizerbart, 2010; M.S. Lejkum et al., Zagadočnyj kamenʼ carja Aleksandra (ob aleksandrite, Aleksandre II i ne tolʼko o nix), izdanie 2-oe, Ridero, 2016). Nordenskiöld did in fact name a mineral Diphanit, but it is a form of margarite with no connection to alexandrite (see "Beschreibung des Diphanit, eines neuen Minerals aus den Smaragdgruben des Urals unweit Katharinenburg," Bulletin de la Class Physico-Mathémathique de l'Académie Impériale des Sciences de St.-Pétersbourg, tome 5. [1847], pp. 265-66).

First Known Use

1844, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of alexandrite was in 1844

Dictionary Entries Near alexandrite

Cite this Entry

“Alexandrite.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Dec. 2023.

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