lith·​ops ˈli-ˌthäps How to pronounce lithops (audio)
plural lithops
: any of a genus (Lithops of the family Aizoaceae) of very small, stemless, succulent plants of southern Africa that typically have a pair of thickened leaves forming a stonelike body with a slit on top from which a usually solitary, sessile flower emerges
The lure of lithops begins with a double-take, the realization that these pebbles are actually plants, alive and growing.Debra Lee Baldwin
The lithops is a feat of botanical engineering against drought.Carol Schatt

called also living stone

Word History


borrowed from New Latin, genus name, from lith- lith- + Greek -ōps "having the appearance (of the thing specified by the initial element)," form in combination of ōp-, *ṓps "eye, face" — more at eye entry 1

Note: The genus name was introduced by the English botanist N. E. (Nicholas Edward) Brown (1849-1934) in "Mesembryanthemum and some new genera separated from it" (The Gardeners' Chronicle, vol. 71, third series [January to June, 1922], p. 44): "The above generic name which I give to the plants I now separate from Mesembryanthemum is formed from the Greek words lithos, a stone, and ops, the face, on account of their resemblance in colour and appearance to the stones and pebbles they grow among."

First Known Use

1922, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of lithops was in 1922

Dictionary Entries Near lithops

Cite this Entry

“Lithops.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Apr. 2024.

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