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[bel-uh m-nahyt] /ˈbɛl əmˌnaɪt/
noun, Paleontology.
a conical fossil, several inches long, consisting of the internal calcareous rod of an extinct animal allied to the cuttlefish; a thunderstone.
Origin of belemnite
1640-50; < French bélemnite, equivalent to Greek bélemn(on) a dart (noun derivative from base of bállein to throw) + French -ite -ite1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for belemnite
Historical Examples
  • De Montfort's figure of this genus appears as if it had been drawn from the nucleus of a belemnite.

    A Conchological Manual George Brettingham Sowerby
  • The ink-bags of the belemnite also are sometimes preserved, and we see how it could balk a pursuer by darkening the waters.

    The Story of Evolution Joseph McCabe
  • It is the fossil commonly called the belemnite, or finger-stone, and now known to be a shell.

    Folk-lore of Shakespeare Thomas Firminger Thiselton-Dyer
  • The very form of the belemnite at once suggests the notion of a dart or lance-head, which has gained for it its scientific name.

    Falling in Love Grant Allen
  • Cerau′nite, a belemnite; Cerau′noscope, an apparatus for imitating thunder and lightning in ancient mysteries.

  • No species of belemnite at present known agreeing with the description; it is supposed to have been taken from a broken specimen.

    A Conchological Manual George Brettingham Sowerby
  • Here is a piece of belemnite in limestone, and the fracture in the fossil presents the usual glistening planes of cleavage.

  • They are dark marly bands, in which a belemnite, Actinocamax plenus, is found.

  • As a genus it holds a place intermediate between the Cuttle-fish and the belemnite.

  • The wonderful shell-fishes of the Ammonite group, and the cuttle-fishes of the belemnite type, share the same fate.

    The Chain of Life in Geological Time Sir J. William Dawson
British Dictionary definitions for belemnite


any extinct marine cephalopod mollusc of the order Belemnoidea, related to the cuttlefish
the long pointed conical internal shell of any of these animals: a common Mesozoic fossil
Word Origin
C17: from Greek belemnon dart
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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belemnite in Science
  1. Any of various extinct cephalopod mollusks of the order Belemnoidea that lived from the Triassic into the Tertiary Period. Belemnites had a large, cone-shaped internal shell with a complex structure that served as a support for muscles and as a hydrostatic device. Belemnites were closely related to the present-day squids and cuttlefishes.

  2. The fossilized internal shell of one of these cephalopods. Belemnites are used as index fossils.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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