cryo·​lite ˈkrī-ə-ˌlīt How to pronounce cryolite (audio)
: a mineral consisting of a fluoride of sodium and aluminum found especially in Greenland usually in white cleavable masses and formerly used as a source of aluminum

Examples of cryolite in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Scattered on the rocky shore were little white chunks of cryolite, a mineral once used in the production of aluminum. Katie Lockhart, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 Dec. 2019 His father worked for the Danish cryolite mining company in control of operations in Ivittuut, called Kryolitselskabet Øresund. Katie Lockhart, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 Dec. 2019 Founded in 1854, the town of Ivittuut (formerly Ivigtut) once held the world’s largest reserve of naturally occurring cryolite. Katie Lockhart, Smithsonian Magazine, 28 Dec. 2019

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'cryolite.' 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 Chryolit or French chryolithe, from chryo- (unetymologically for cryo- cryo-) + -lit, -lithe -lite

Note: The mineral was first described and apparently named by the Danish physician Peter Christian Abildgaard (1740-1801) in a report to Allgemeines Journal der Chemie, vol. 2 (1799), p. 502: "Zugleich theilte er auch eine Nachricht von einer vor wenigen Jahren aus Grönland nach Dänemark gebrachten besonders weissen spathartigen Miner mit. Einer damit angestellten Untersuchung zu folge bestand sie aus Thonerde und Flussspathsäure. Eine Verbindung, von welcher noch kein ähnliches Beyspiel im Mineralreich vorgekommen ist. Sie hat den Namen Chryolit erhalten, weil sie vor dem Löthrohre wie gefrorne Salzlauge schmilzt." ("At the same time he [Professor Abildgaard] has communicated a report about a particularly white spar-like ore brought to Denmark from Greenland several years ago. The result of an investigation undertaken for the purpose is that it consists of alumina and hydrofluoric acid. A combination for which a like example has not yet been found in the mineral kingdom. It has received the name cryolite because on exposure to the blowpipe it melts into a sort of frozen brine.")

First Known Use

1800, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of cryolite was in 1800

Dictionary Entries Near cryolite

Cite this Entry

“Cryolite.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


cryo·​lite ˈkrī-ə-ˌlīt How to pronounce cryolite (audio)
: a mineral consisting of sodium, aluminum, and fluorine that is used especially in making aluminum

More from Merriam-Webster on cryolite

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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