ap·​a·​tite | \ ˈa-pə-ˌtīt How to pronounce apatite (audio) \

Definition of apatite

: any of a group of calcium phosphate minerals occurring in various colors as hexagonal crystals, as granular masses, or in fine-grained masses as the chief constituent of phosphate rock and of bones and teeth especially : calcium phosphate fluoride

Examples of apatite in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The other important minerals available in significant quantities are limestone, dolomite, manganese, mica, china clay, graphite, fire clay, coal bed methane, uranium, phosphorite, apatite, quartz, gold, feldspar and pyroxenite. Gurvinder Singh, Quartz India, 4 Oct. 2019 When uranium decays to lead, a natural process that happens at a steady rate, the split leaves a tiny track in the apatite that is visible under a microscope. Lisa Grossman, WIRED, 15 Sep. 2010

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'apatite.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of apatite

1794, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for apatite

borrowed from German Apatit, from Greek apatáō, apatân "to deceive" (derivative of apátē "deceit, fraud," perhaps of substratal origin) + German -it -ite entry 1

Note: The term was introduced by the German geologist Abraham Gottlob Werner (1749-1817). It apparently first appeared, attributed to Werner, in Carl Abraham Gerhard's Grundriss des Mineralsystems (Berlin, 1786), p. 281. Werner himself described the mineral in "Geschichte, Karakteristik, und kurze chemische Untersuchung des Apatits," Bergmännisches Journal, 1. Band, 1. Stück (April, 1788), pp. 76-96. He accounts for the naming of the mineral on pp. 84-85: "Ich wies hierauf diesem Fossile, als einer eigenen Gattung, sogleich eine Stelle in dem Kalkgeschlechte an; und ertheilte ihm, — weil es bisher alle Mineralogen in seiner Bestimmung irre geführt hatte, — den Namen Apatit, den ich von dem griechischen Worte απατάω (decipio) bildete, und welcher so viel als Trügling sagt." ("I thereupon allocated to this fossil [i. e., substance dug out of the earth], as its own genus, a place in the calcium family; and conferred on it—because it had up to now led all mineralogists identifying it astray—the name apatite, which I formed from the Greek word apatáō ([I] deceive) and which says as much as [the word] deceiver.")

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The first known use of apatite was in 1794

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Cite this Entry

“Apatite.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apatite. Accessed 28 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for apatite


ap·​a·​tite | \ ˈap-ə-ˌtīt How to pronounce apatite (audio) \

Medical Definition of apatite

: any of a group of calcium phosphate minerals occurring variously as hexagonal crystals, as granular masses, or in fine-grained masses as the chief constituent of bones and teeth and of phosphate rock especially : calcium phosphate fluoride Ca5F(PO4)3

More from Merriam-Webster on apatite

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about apatite


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