mineral

A mineral is a nonliving natural substance of a definite chemical composition. A mineral like manganese may help keep you healthy; a mineral like a diamond may help keep you sparkly.

At one time mineral referred to valuable substances obtained in mines. Although that still can be the case, today the word has several senses (both noun and adjective) and may be found almost anywhere — in the ground, in the air, or on the periodic table. And if you remember mineral when you remember animal and vegetable, you’ve got a better chance of winning Twenty Questions.

Definitions of mineral
  1. noun
    solid homogeneous inorganic substances occurring in nature having a definite chemical composition
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    types:
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    ader wax, earth wax, mineral wax, ozocerite, ozokerite
    a waxy mineral that is a mixture of hydrocarbons and occurs in association with petroleum; some varieties are used in making ceresin and candles
    amblygonite
    a white or grey mineral consisting of lithium aluminum phosphate; a source of lithium
    amphibole
    a mineral or mineral variety belonging to the amphibole group
    amphibole group
    a group of minerals with similar crystal structures containing a silicate chain and combinations of chiefly sodium and calcium and magnesium and iron and aluminum
    apatite
    a common complex mineral consisting of calcium fluoride phosphate or calcium chloride phosphate; a source of phosphorus
    aragonite
    a mineral form of crystalline calcium carbonate; dimorphic with calcite
    argentite
    a valuable silver ore consisting of silver sulfide (Ag2S)
    argyrodite
    a rare steel-grey mineral consisting of silver and germanium and sulfur
    arsenopyrite, mispickel
    a silver-white or grey ore of arsenic
    asphalt, mineral pitch
    a dark bituminous substance found in natural beds and as residue from petroleum distillation; consists mainly of hydrocarbons
    augite
    dark-green to black glassy mineral of the pyroxene group containing large amounts of aluminum and iron and magnesium
    baddeleyite
    a mineral consisting of zirconium oxide
    bastnaesite, bastnasite
    a yellow-to-brown mineral that is a source of rare earth elements
    bauxite
    a clay-like mineral; the chief ore of aluminum; composed of aluminum oxides and aluminum hydroxides; used as an abrasive and catalyst
    beryl
    the chief source of beryllium; colored transparent varieties are valued as gems
    borax
    an ore of boron consisting of hydrated sodium borate; used as a flux or cleansing agent
    bornite, peacock ore
    a mineral consisting of sulfides of copper and iron that is found in copper deposits
    carnallite
    a white or reddish mineral consisting of hydrous chlorides of potassium and magnesium; used as a fertilizer and as a source of potassium and magnesium
    cassiterite
    a hard heavy dark mineral that is the chief source of tin
    celestite
    a mineral consisting of strontium sulphate
    cerussite, white lead ore
    a mineral consisting of lead carbonate that is an important source of lead
    chalcocite, copper glance
    a heavy grey mineral that is an ore of copper
    chalcopyrite, copper pyrites
    a yellow copper ore (CuFeS2) made up of copper and iron sulfide
    chlorite
    a generally green or black mineral; it occurs as a constituent of many rocks typically in the form of a flat crystal
    chromite
    a brownish-black mineral; the major source of chromium
    chrysoberyl
    a rare hard yellow green mineral consisting of beryllium aluminate in crystal form; used as a gemstone
    cinnabar
    a heavy reddish mineral consisting of mercuric sulfide; the chief source of mercury
    cobaltite
    a rare silvery-white mineral; important ore of cobalt
    halite, rock salt
    naturally occurring crystalline sodium chloride
    coltan, columbite-tantalite
    a valuable black mineral combining niobite and tantalite; used in cell phones and computer chips
    cordierite
    a blue mineral of magnesium and iron and aluminum and silicon and oxygen; often used as a gemstone
    corundom, corundum
    very hard mineral used as an abrasive
    cristobalite
    a white mineral consisting of silica; found in volcanic rocks
    crocolite
    a rare lead chromite mineral that forms bright orange crystals
    Greenland spar, cryolite
    a white mineral consisting of fluorides of aluminum and sodium; a source of fluorine
    cuprite
    a mineral consisting of cuprous oxide that is a source of copper
    bitter spar, dolomite
    a light colored mineral consisting of calcium magnesium carbonate; a source of magnesium; used as a ceramic and as fertilizer
    earth color
    a colored mineral used as a pigment
    emery
    a hard grey-black mineral consisting of corundum and either hematite or magnetite; used as an abrasive (especially as a coating on paper)
    cobalt bloom, erythrite
    a reddish mineral consisting of hydrated cobalt arsenate in monoclinic crystalline form and used in coloring glass; usually found in veins bearing cobalt and arsenic
    fergusonite
    a dark mineral consisting of oxides of yttrium and erbium and tantalum and other minerals
    fluor, fluorite, fluorspar
    a soft mineral (calcium fluoride) that is fluorescent in ultraviolet light; chief source of fluorine
    gadolinite, ytterbite
    a mineral that is a source of rare earths; consists of silicates of iron and beryllium and cerium and yttrium and erbium
    galena
    soft blue-grey mineral; lead sulfide; a major source of lead
    garnet
    any of a group of hard glassy minerals (silicates of various metals) used as gemstones and as an abrasive
    garnierite
    a green mineral consisting of hydrated nickel magnesium silicate; a source of nickel
    germanite
    a rare reddish-grey mineral consisting of a copper iron germanium sulfide
    gibbsite
    white crystalline mineral consisting of aluminum hydroxide; a constituent of bauxite and a source of alumina
    glauconite
    a green mineral consisting of hydrated silicate of potassium or iron or magnesium or aluminum; found in greensand
    cadmium sulphide, greenockite
    ore of cadmium; a rare yellowish mineral consisting of cadmium sulphide in crystalline form
    gypsum
    a common white or colorless mineral (hydrated calcium sulphate) used to make cements and plasters (especially plaster of Paris)
    hausmannite
    a mineral consisting of manganese tetroxide; a source of manganese
    barite, barium sulphate, barytes, heavy spar
    a white or colorless mineral (BaSO4); the main source of barium
    calamine, hemimorphite
    a white mineral; a common ore of zinc
    ilmenite
    a weakly magnetic black mineral found in metamorphic and plutonic rocks; an iron titanium oxide in crystalline form; a source of titanium
    jadeite
    a hard green mineral consisting of sodium aluminum silicate in monoclinic crystalline form; a source of jade; found principally in Burma
    kainite
    a white mineral consisting of magnesium sulphate and potassium chloride; a source of potassium salts; used as a fertilizer
    kaolinite
    a mineral consisting of aluminum silicate; main source of kaolin
    kernite
    a light soft mineral consisting of hydrated sodium borate in crystalline form; an important source of boron
    kieserite
    a white mineral consisting of hydrous magnesium sulfate often found in salt mines
    cyanite, kyanite
    a grey or greenish-blue mineral consisting of aluminum silicate in crystalline form; occurs in metaphoric rock, used as a refractory
    langbeinite
    a mineral consisting of potassium magnesium double sulphate; used as a fertilizer
    magnesite
    a white mineral consisting of magnesium carbonate; a source of magnesium
    malachite
    a green or blue mineral used as an ore of copper and for making ornamental objects
    maltha, mineral tar
    a thick black tar intermediate between petroleum and asphalt
    manganite
    a black mineral consisting of basic manganese oxide; a source of manganese
    meerschaum, sepiolite
    a white clayey mineral
    isinglass, mica
    any of various minerals consisting of hydrous silicates of aluminum or potassium etc. that crystallize in forms that allow perfect cleavage into very thin leaves; used as dielectrics because of their resistance to electricity
    millerite
    a yellow mineral consisting of nickel sulfide; a minor source of nickel
    molybdenite
    a mineral resembling graphite that is valued as the chief source of molybdenum and its compounds
    monazite
    a reddish-brown mineral containing rare earth metals; an important source of thorium and cerium
    nepheline, nephelite
    a whitish mineral consisting of sodium aluminum silicate or potassium aluminum silicate in crystalline form; used in the manufacture of ceramics and enamels
    nephelinite
    an igneous rock consisting of nepheline and pyroxene
    columbite, niobite
    a black mineral that is an ore of niobium and tantalum
    nitrocalcite
    the mineral form of calcium nitrate
    olivine
    a mineral consisting of magnesium iron silicate; a source of magnesium
    olivenite
    rare green to black mineral consisting of hydrated copper arsenate that is found in copper deposits
    opal
    a translucent mineral consisting of hydrated silica of variable color; some varieties are used as gemstones
    ore
    a mineral that contains metal that is valuable enough to be mined
    orpiment
    a yellow mineral occurring in conjunction with realgar; an ore of arsenic
    iridosmine, osmiridium
    a hard and corrosion resistant mineral that is a natural alloy of osmium and iridium (usually containing small amounts of rhodium and platinum); used in needles and pen nibs etc.
    pentlandite
    a mineral (iron and nickel sulphide) that is the chief ore of nickel
    magnesia, magnesium oxide, periclase
    a white solid mineral that occurs naturally as periclase; a source of magnesium
    pinite
    grey or green or brown mineral similar to mica and containing aluminum and potassium sulphates
    pollucite
    a rare mineral that is an important source of cesium
    psilomelane
    a mineral consisting of hydrated basic oxide of manganese and barium; a source of manganese
    fool's gold, iron pyrite, pyrite
    a common mineral (iron disulfide) that has a pale yellow color
    pyrolusite
    a mineral consisting of manganese dioxide; an important source of manganese
    green lead ore, pyromorphite
    a mineral consisting of lead chloride and phosphate; a minor source of lead
    pyrophyllite
    a white or greenish aluminum silicate mineral (resembles talc)
    pyroxene
    any of a group of crystalline silicate mineral common in igneous and metamorphic rocks
    magnetic pyrites, pyrrhotine, pyrrhotite
    a brownish iron sulfide mineral (FeS) having weak magnetic properties
    quartz
    a hard glossy mineral consisting of silicon dioxide in crystal form; present in most rocks (especially sandstone and granite); yellow sand is quartz with iron oxide impurities
    realgar
    a rare soft orange mineral consisting of arsenic sulphide; an important ore of arsenic
    red clay
    clay whose redness results from iron oxide
    rhodochrosite
    a mineral consisting of manganese carbonate; a source of manganese
    rhodonite
    a pink or red mineral consisting of crystalline manganese silicate; used as an ornamental stone
    rutile
    a mineral consisting of titanium dioxide in crystalline form; occurs in metamorphic and plutonic rocks and is a major source of titanium
    samarskite
    a complex black mineral occurring in pegmatites
    sapphirine
    a rare light blue or green mineral; consists of aluminum and magnesium silicate and occurs as small grains in some metamorphic rocks
    scheelite
    a mineral used as an ore of tungsten
    smaltite
    a grey mineral consisting of cobalt arsenide and nickel; an important source of cobalt and nickel
    sodalite
    a vitreous mineral consisting of sodium aluminum silicate and sodium chloride in crystalline form; occurs in igneous rocks
    spar
    any of various nonmetallic minerals (calcite or feldspar) that are light in color and transparent or translucent and cleavable
    spinel
    a hard glassy mineral consisting of an oxide of magnesium and aluminum; occurs in various colors that are used as gemstones
    spodumene
    a pyroxene mineral consisting of lithium aluminum silicate; a source of lithium
    stannite, tin pyrites
    a dark grey mineral with a metallic luster that is a source of tin
    stibnite
    a soft grey mineral; the chief ore of antimony
    strontianite
    a mineral consisting of strontium carbonate
    graphic tellurium, sylvanite
    a silver-white mineral consisting of silver gold telluride; a source of gold in Australia and America
    sylvine, sylvite
    a mineral consisting of native potassium chloride; an important ore of potassium that is found in sedimentary beds
    talc, talcum
    a fine grained mineral having a soft soapy feel and consisting of hydrated magnesium silicate; used in a variety of products including talcum powder
    tantalite
    a mineral consisting of tantalum oxide of iron and manganese that occurs with niobite or in coarse granite; an ore of tantalum
    thorite
    a radioactive mineral consisting of thorium silicate; it is a source of thorium that is found in coarse granite
    thortveitite
    a mineral consisting of scandium yttrium silicate; a source of scandium
    topaz
    a mineral (fluosilicate of aluminum) that occurs in crystals of various colors and is used as a gemstone
    tourmaline
    a mineral that is a complex borosilicate and hydroxide of aluminum containing iron and magnesium and calcium and lithium and sodium; it is usually black but occurs in transparent colored forms that are used as gemstones
    tridymite
    a mineral form of silica
    turquoise
    a blue to grey green mineral consisting of copper aluminum phosphate
    vanadinite
    a mineral consisting of chloride and vanadate of lead; a source of vanadium
    vermiculite
    any of a group of yellow or brown hydrous silicate minerals having a micaceous structure
    idocrase, vesuvian, vesuvianite
    a green or yellow or brown mineral consisting of a hydrated silicate; it occurs as crystals in limestone and is used a gemstone
    iron manganese tungsten, wolframite
    a mineral consisting of iron and manganese tungstate in crystalline form; the principal ore of tungsten; found in quartz veins associated with granitic rocks
    wollastonite
    a white or greyish mineral typically found in metamorphic limestone; a silicate of calcium
    wulfenite
    a yellow to orange or brown mineral used as a molybdenum ore
    wurtzite
    a brownish-black mineral consisting of zinc sulfide
    xenotime
    a brown-to-yellow mineral that is a phosphate of yttrium in crystalline form
    zeolite
    any of a family of glassy minerals analogous to feldspar containing hydrated aluminum silicates of calcium or sodium or potassium; formed in cavities in lava flows and in plutonic rocks
    blende, sphalerite, zinc blende
    an ore that is the chief source of zinc; consists largely of zinc sulfide in crystalline form
    zinkenite
    a steel grey metallic mineral (a sulphide of lead and antimony)
    zircon, zirconium silicate
    a common mineral occurring in small crystals; chief source of zirconium; used as a refractory when opaque and as a gem when transparent
    quartz crystal
    a thin plate or small rod of quartz cut along certain lines and ground so that it can produce an electric signal at a constant frequency; used in crystal oscillators
    alabaster
    a compact fine-textured, usually white gypsum used for carving
    azurite
    blue carbonate of copper; blue malachite
    biotite
    dark brown to black mica found in igneous and metamorphic rock
    fluorapatite
    a form of apatite in which fluorine predominates over chlorine
    almandine, almandite
    a deep red garnet consisting of iron aluminum silicate
    gesso
    gypsum or plaster of Paris spread on a surface to make it suitable for painting or gilding (or a surface so prepared)
    lepidolite
    a mineral of the mica group; an important source of lithium
    muscovite
    a colorless or pale brown mica with potassium
    nephrite
    an amphibole mineral consisting of calcium magnesium silicate in monoclinic crystalline form; a source of jade that is less valuable than from jadeite; once believed to cure kidney disorders
    paragonite
    a colorless or pale brown mica with sodium
    phlogopite
    a brown form of mica consisting of hydrous silicate of potassium and magnesium and aluminum
    rock crystal, transparent quartz
    a clear quartz used in making electronic and optical equipment
    cairngorm, smoky quartz
    a smoky yellow or brown quartz
    alexandrite
    a green variety of chrysoberyl used as a gemstone
    amethyst
    a transparent purple variety of quartz; used as a gemstone
    actinolite
    a green mineral of the amphibole group; calcium magnesium iron silicate
    anthophyllite
    a dark brown mineral of the amphibole group; magnesium iron silicate
    asbestos
    a fibrous amphibole; used for making fireproof articles; inhaling fibers can cause asbestosis or lung cancer
    hornblende
    a green to black mineral of the amphibole group; consists of silicates of calcium and sodium and magnesium and iron
    aquamarine
    a transparent variety of beryl that is blue green in color
    black opal
    a dark colored opal with internal reflections of green or red
    calcedony, chalcedony
    a milky or greyish translucent to transparent quartz
    chrysolite
    a brown or yellow-green olivine found in igneous and metamorphic rocks and used as a gemstone
    citrine
    semiprecious yellow quartz resembling topaz
    alumina, aluminium oxide, aluminum oxide
    any of various forms of aluminum oxide occurring naturally as corundum
    andradite
    a garnet consisting of calcium iron silicate and having any color ranging from yellow and green to brown and black; used as gemstone
    concentrate, dressed ore
    the desired mineral that is left after impurities have been removed from mined ore
    sienna
    an earth color containing ferric oxides; used as a pigment
    ocher, ochre
    any of various earths containing silica and alumina and ferric oxide; used as a pigment
    emerald
    a green transparent form of beryl; highly valued as a gemstone
    feldspar, felspar
    any of a group of hard crystalline minerals that consist of aluminum silicates of potassium or sodium or calcium or barium
    fire opal, girasol
    an opal with flaming orange and yellow and red colors
    carbuncle
    deep-red cabochon garnet cut without facets
    cinnamon stone, essonite, hessonite
    a garnet ranging in color from yellow to brown
    terra alba
    finely pulverized gypsum used especially as a pigment
    harlequin opal
    a reddish opal with small patches of brilliant color
    hyacinth, jacinth
    a red transparent variety of zircon used as a gemstone
    iron ore
    an ore from which iron can be extracted
    jargon, jargoon
    a colorless (or pale yellow or smoky) variety of zircon
    kunzite
    a pinkish lilac crystal form of the mineral spodumene that is used as a gemstone
    lead ore
    ore containing lead
    calcite
    a common mineral consisting of crystallized calcium carbonate; a major constituent of limestone
    morganite
    a kind of pink beryl used as a gemstone
    pay dirt
    ore that yields a substantial profit to the miner
    pyrope
    a deep red garnet used as a gemstone
    rhodolite
    a red or pink variety of garnet used as a gemstone
    rose quartz
    a translucent rose-red variety of quartz used for ornaments
    ruby
    a transparent deep red variety of corundum; used as a gemstone and in lasers
    water sapphire
    a deep blue cordierite often used as a gemstone
    sapphire
    a precious transparent stone of rich blue corundum valued as a gemstone
    schorl
    black tourmaline
    soap-rock, soaprock, soapstone, steatite
    a soft heavy compact variety of talc having a soapy feel; used to make hearths and tabletops and ornaments
    ruby spinel, spinel ruby
    a spinel used as a gemstone (usually dark red)
    Ceylonite, pleonaste
    a dark-colored spinel containing iron
    hiddenite
    a green transparent form of the mineral spodumene used as a gemstone
    aventurine, sunstone
    a translucent quartz spangled with bits of mica or other minerals
    French chalk
    a soft white compact talc used to mark cloth or to remove grease stains
    rensselaerite
    a kind of soft talc; sometimes used as wood filler
    common topaz, false topaz, topaz
    a yellow quartz
    umber
    an earth pigment
    uranium ore
    any ore from which uranium can be extracted
    chabasite, chabazite
    a group of minerals of the zeolite family consisting of a hydrous silicate of calcium and aluminum
    heulandite
    a group of minerals of the zeolite family consisting of a hydrous aluminum silicate of sodium and calcium
    natrolite
    a group of minerals of the zeolite family consisting of a hydrous silicate of sodium and aluminum
    phillipsite
    a group of white or reddish crystalline minerals of the zeolite family consisting of a hydrous silicate of calcium and potassium and aluminum
    zinnwaldite
    a mica containing iron and lithium
    type of:
    material, stuff
    the tangible substance that goes into the makeup of a physical object
  2. adjective
    relating to minerals
    mineral elements”
    mineral deposits”
  3. adjective
    composed of matter other than plant or animal
    “the inorganic mineral world”
    Synonyms:
    inorganic
    lacking the properties characteristic of living organisms
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