pho·​no·​lite ˈfō-nə-ˌlīt How to pronounce phonolite (audio)
: a gray or green volcanic rock consisting essentially of orthoclase and nepheline

Examples of phonolite in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web That eruption was quite different than the current, where instead of just basanite (similar to basalt) lava flows, the eruption had the extrusion of lava flows and sticky phonolite (similar to rhyolite) domes or spines totalling ~0.07 cubic miles (0.3 cubic kilometers) of material. Erik Klemetti, Discover Magazine, 28 Oct. 2021 The eruptions are dominantly lava flows, although unlike shield volcanoes like Kilauea, Fogo erupts both low-silica basanite (similar to basalt but higher in alkaline elements like sodium and potassium) and high-silica phonolite (similar to rhyolite but higher alkalines). Erik Klemetti, Discover Magazine, 24 Nov. 2014 Now, Tenerife hasn't produced another eruption like this since, but a paper by Ablay and others (1995) suggested that there could be more of the explosive phonolite magma lurking underneath the caldera. Erik Klemetti, Discover Magazine, 29 Apr. 2016

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'phonolite.' 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 French, from phono- phono- + -lite -lite, as loan translation of German Klingstein; so called from the metallic ringing sound it makes when struck

Note: The word was perhaps introduced by the French mineralogist Alexandre Brongniart (1770-1847), who used it in Traité élémentaire de minéralogie, tome premier (Paris, 1807), p. 353.

First Known Use

1831, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of phonolite was in 1831

Dictionary Entries Near phonolite

Cite this Entry

“Phonolite.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Jul. 2024.

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