col·​tan ˈkōl-ˌtan How to pronounce coltan (audio)
: a dull black ore that consists of a mixture of columbite and tantalite and is a minor source of tantalum

Keep scrolling for more

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The Afro-futurist musical, set in a hacker village made of computer parts, follows a miner who flees his life of digging up coltan after his brother’s tragic death. David Sims, The Atlantic, 3 Aug. 2022 Bolívar, a sprawling state in Venezuela’s southeast, is home to steel and aluminum plants and large deposits of gold, diamonds and coltan. New York Times, 19 Nov. 2021 Some mines are run by warlords who work with rogue members of the Congolese army to smuggle the coltan out. The Economist, 23 Jan. 2021 But mining operations are destroying these forests to extract minerals such as coltan—used in making electronics like cell phones and laptops. National Geographic, 21 Apr. 2020 Then there were the critical minerals in their phones and computers—the coltan, cobalt, and lithium—that are mined in Afghanistan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Eliza Griswold, The New Yorker, 23 Mar. 2020 Congo produces some two-thirds of the world’s cobalt, a mineral key in the production of lithium-ion batteries that power laptops and electric cars, as well as coltan, copper, tantalum and tin, all used in modern electronics. Gabriele Steinhauser, WSJ, 30 Dec. 2018 The Western lowland gorilla's native habitat in Africa is shrinking due in part to mining of a metallic ore called coltan, a key ingredient in manufacturing batteries, including the kind found in our phones. Jennifer Larino,, 1 Mar. 2018 Wakanda’s entire Vibranium economy is based on Congo’s exclusive rights to the rare mineral coltan (which is in basically EVERY cellphone). Jason Johnson, The Root, 22 Jan. 2018 See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Word History


International Scientific Vocabulary columbo-tantalite, from columbite + -o- + tantalite

First Known Use

1999, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of coltan was in 1999

Dictionary Entries Near coltan

Cite this Entry

“Coltan.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Aug. 2022.

Keep scrolling for more

Last Updated: 18 Aug 2022

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.