a soft coal, usually dark brown, often having a distinct woodlike texture, and intermediate in density and carbon content between peat and bituminous coal.

1800–10; lign- + -ite1

lignitic [lig-nit-ik] , adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
lignite (ˈlɪɡnaɪt)
Also called: brown coal a brown carbonaceous sedimentary rock with woody texture that consists of accumulated layers of partially decomposed vegetation: used as a fuel. Fixed carbon content: 46--60 per cent; calorific value: 1.28 × 107 to 1.93 × 107 J/kg (5500 to 8300 Btu/lb)

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

"imperfectly formed coal," 1808, from Fr., from L. lignum "wood" (see lecture). Brown coal that still shows traces of the wood it once was. Probably directly from Lithanthrax Lignius, name given to woody coal by Wallerius, 1775.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
lignite  [%PREMIUM_LINK%]     (lĭg'nīt')  Pronunciation Key 
A soft, brownish-black form of coal having more carbon than peat but less carbon than bituminous coal. Lignite is easy to mine but does not burn as well as other forms of coal. It is a greater polluter than bituminous coal because it has a higher sulphur content. Compare anthracite, bituminous coal.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
The lignite was then pressed against a series of water permeable screens and drainage plates.
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