lig·​nite ˈlig-ˌnīt How to pronounce lignite (audio)
: a usually brownish black coal intermediate between peat and bituminous coal
especially : one in which the texture of the original wood is distinct

called also brown coal

lignitic adjective

Examples of lignite in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In Dusseldorf, 250 kilos of lignite—the type of coal RWE plans to extract from Lützerath—was dumped in the street in front of the regional Green Party headquarters. WIRED, 23 June 2023 The former communist east is heavily dependent on lignite mining, and the government’s push to phase out coal by 2030 — eight years earlier than planned — is facing major push-back in these areas. Michael Nienaber,, 4 June 2023 Thunberg joined thousands of other activists and protesters taking part in weekend demonstrations against the razing of the German village that would make way for an expansion of the Garzweiler lignite coal mine, which is owned by European energy giant RWE. Rachel Ramirez, CNN, 17 Jan. 2023 In Germany last year, in part because of low winds and the already rising price of natural gas, hard coal and lignite accounted for 28 percent of electricity production — contributing to a rise of a 4.5 percent in overall emissions over the previous year. Vanessa Guinan-Bank, Washington Post, 1 Aug. 2022 Project Tundra plans to pump the liquid CO2 into sandstone rocks that lie just over a mile beneath the nearby lignite coal mine, where it will be stored permanently. IEEE Spectrum, 14 Mar. 2023 Every year, the hulking 13,000-ton, 100-meter-high excavators at the Garzweiler II mine extract 25 million tons of lignite — low-quality coal that is the world’s most polluting fossil fuel. Loveday Morris, Washington Post, 11 Jan. 2023 Police officers carry Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg away from the edge of the Garzweiler II opencast lignite mine during a protest action by climate activists after the clearance of Luetzerath, Germany, Jan. 17, 2023. Stephane Nitscke and Madeline Chambers, The Christian Science Monitor, 18 Jan. 2023 Yet, despite the prolonged lifeline of its plants and the imminent expansion at Lützerath, RWE’s lignite operations are in decline. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, 11 Jan. 2023 See More

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

Word History


French, from Latin lignum

First Known Use

circa 1808, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of lignite was circa 1808

Dictionary Entries Near lignite

Cite this Entry

“Lignite.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


lig·​nite ˈlig-ˌnīt How to pronounce lignite (audio)
: a usually brownish black coal between peat and bituminous coal in age and heating ability
especially : one in which the texture of the original wood is distinct

More from Merriam-Webster on lignite

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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