gahn·​ite ˈgä-ˌnīt How to pronounce gahnite (audio)
: a usually dark green mineral consisting of an oxide of zinc and aluminum

Word History


borrowed from French gahnite or German Gahnit, from Johan Gottlieb Gahn, †1818 Swedish chemist and mineralogist + -ite, -it -ite entry 1

Note: The introduction of the name is credited to the Austrian-born naturalist Karl Erenbert von Moll (1760-1838), who used Gahnit in a discussion of the mineral in his Efemeriden der Berg- und Hüttenkunde, 3. Band (1807), pp. 78-80; Moll states that he preferred this appellation to earlier Automolit, suggested by the Swedish chemist Anders Gustaf Ekeberg ("Untersuchungen eines harten octaëdrisch kristallisirten Fossils aus Fahlun," Neues allgemeines Journal der Chemie, 5. Band [1805], pp. 442-55). The name had in fact been used earlier, as gahnite, by the French chemist Louis Nicolas Vauquelin ("Analyse dʼun minéral particulier connu sous le nom de cristaux trouvés à Fahlun en Suède, envoyé par MM. Hisenger et Berzelius," Annales du Muséum dʼHistoire Naturelle, tome 16 (1805), pp. 157-62). Both Ekeberg and Vauquelin credit the discovery of the mineral at Falun Mine, Dalarna, Sweden to Johan Gottlieb Gahn (1745-1818), who directed a laboratory there.

First Known Use

circa 1808, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of gahnite was circa 1808

Dictionary Entries Near gahnite

Cite this Entry

“Gahnite.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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