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The Collaborative International Dictionary

Pyrite \Pyr"ite\, n.; pl. Pyrites. [Cf. F. pyrite. See Pyrites.] (Min.) A common mineral of a pale brass-yellow color and brilliant metallic luster, crystallizing in the isometric system; iron pyrites; iron disulphide.

Hence sable coal his massy couch extends, And stars of gold the sparkling pyrite blends.
--E. Darwin.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

"metallic iron disulfide, fool's gold," 1550s, from Old French pyrite (12c.), from Latin pyrites, from Greek pyrites lithos "stone of fire, flint" (so called because it glitters), from pyrites "of or in fire," from pyr (genitive pyros) "fire" (see fire (n.)). Related: Pyritic.


n. 1 (context mineralogy English) The common mineral iron disulfide (FeS2), of a pale brass-yellow color and brilliant metallic luster, crystallizing in the isometric system. 2 (''usually as a plural: '''pyrites''''') Any metallic-looking sulphide, such as the above, which is the most common. 3 (context solid state chemistry English) (''usually as a plural: '''pyrites''''') Any metal dichalcogenide that is isostructural to the common mineral.


n. a common mineral (iron disulfide) that has a pale yellow color [syn: iron pyrite, fool's gold]


The mineral pyrite, or iron pyrite, also known as fool's gold, is an iron sulfide with the chemical formula Fe S. This mineral's metallic luster and pale brass-yellow hue give it a superficial resemblance to gold, hence the well-known nickname of fool's gold. The color has also led to the nicknames brass, brazzle, and Brazil, primarily used to refer to pyrite found in coal.

Pyrite is the most common of the sulfide minerals. The name pyrite is derived from the Greek πυρίτης (pyritēs), "of fire" or "in fire", in turn from πύρ (pyr), "fire". In ancient Roman times, this name was applied to several types of stone that would create sparks when struck against steel; Pliny the Elder described one of them as being brassy, almost certainly a reference to what we now call pyrite. By Georgius Agricola's time, c. 1550, the term had become a generic term for all of the sulfide minerals.

Pyrite is usually found associated with other sulfides or oxides in quartz veins, sedimentary rock, and metamorphic rock, as well as in coal beds and as a replacement mineral in fossils. Despite being nicknamed fool's gold, pyrite is sometimes found in association with small quantities of gold. Gold and arsenic occur as a coupled substitution in the pyrite structure. In the Carlin–type gold deposits, arsenian pyrite contains up to 0.37 wt% gold.

Usage examples of "pyrite".

One gram of copper pyrites, blende, fahlerz, or mispickel, yields 7 or 8 grams of lead, whilst 1 gram of antimonite will give 6, and 1 gram of galena only a little over 3 grams.

For example: 3 grams of an ore containing a good deal of pyrites and a little galena, gave, when fused with litharge, 16.

Such was the case with the two specimens which Cyrus Harding had brought back, one of magnetic iron, not carbonated, the other a pyrite, also called sulphuret of iron.

A few minutes after them, Cyrus Harding, Herbert, and Gideon Spilett, dragging the hurdle, went towards the vein of coals, where those shistose pyrites abound which are met with in the most recent transition soil, and of which Harding had already found a specimen.

It towered over Cracia, the largest and oldest city on Pyrites, a three thousand metre ironwork tower, raised four hundred years before, partly to honour the Emperor but mostly to celebrate the engineering skill of the Pyriteans.

It seemed there was no one else on Pyrites close enough or trusted enough to do it.

First I knew was Pyrites, when you volunteered me as custodian for the damn crystal.

He teased himself with memories of Pyrites, where the stabbing wet-cold of the outer city reaches had seemed so painful.

The weighed portion of ore should be placed in a clean crucible and be heated to incipient redness: with pyrites the first effect is to drive off about half the sulphur as vapour which burns as flame over the ore.

Iron pyrites generally carries copper and is frequently associated with the above-mentioned minerals.

Iron is found combined with sulphur in pyrrhotine and pyrites, and together with arsenic in mispickel.

The mispickel and copper and iron pyrites are converted into oxides by roasting, and are in great part removed by a subsequent washing.

For example, this occurs in the case of a mixture of pyrites with oxide of iron, or in a mixture of sulphides and sulphates.

Free or native sulphur may be volatilised, condensed, and weighed, but pyrites only gives up a portion of its sulphur when heated in a closed vessel, while most sulphides, and all sulphates, give up none at all.

How would blende compare with pyrites as a source of sulphur for sulphuric acid making?