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[graf-ahyt] /ˈgræf aɪt/
a very common mineral, soft native carbon, occurring in black to dark-gray foliated masses, with metallic luster and greasy feel: used for pencil leads, as a lubricant, and for making crucibles and other refractories; plumbago; black lead.
Origin of graphite
1790-1800; < German Graphit < Greek gráph(ein) to write, draw + German -it -ite1
Related forms
[gruh-fit-ik] /grəˈfɪt ɪk/ (Show IPA),
nongraphitic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for graphite
  • White-coated workers supervise machines as they wind graphite tape around the mandrels.
  • At slower speeds they would have turned into graphite, much to the chagrin of brides-to-be everywhere.
  • White sketched in graphite pencil and colored with indigo, vermilion and ground gold and silver leaf, among other pigments.
  • His monochromatic work is executed with graphite sticks and gesso washes, merging drawing with painting.
  • Visitors are encouraged to make rubbings of names, using graphite pencils and commemorative paper supplied by park rangers.
  • The new fuel cell uses a unique arrangement of two graphite discs, each containing special enzymes and connected by platinum wire.
  • Its strength comes from six internal conductive graphite fiber bundles.
  • Place metal solvents and graphite in ceramic growth chamber.
  • Though these are heavier than tents with graphite or nylon poles, the aluminum poles are more resistant to splintering.
  • Then the system run out of control and caused hydrogen blast that broke the building and ignited the graphite causing a fire.
British Dictionary definitions for graphite


a blackish soft allotropic form of carbon in hexagonal crystalline form: used in pencils, crucibles, and electrodes, as a lubricant, as a moderator in nuclear reactors, and, in a carbon fibre form, as a tough lightweight material for sporting equipment Also called plumbago
Derived Forms
graphitic (ɡrəˈfɪtɪk) adjective
Word Origin
C18: from German Graphit; from Greek graphein to write + -ite1
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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Word Origin and History for graphite

1796, from German Graphit "black lead," coined 1789 by German mineralogist Abraham Gottlob Werner (1750-1817) from Greek graphein "write" (see -graphy) + mineral suffix -ite. So called because it was used in pencils. Related: Graphitic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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graphite in Science
A naturally occurring, steel-gray to black, crystalline form of carbon. The carbon atoms in graphite are strongly bonded together in sheets. Because the bonds between the sheets are weak, other atoms can easily fit between them, causing graphite to be soft and slippery to the touch. Graphite is used in pencils and paints and as a lubricant and electrode. It is also used to control chain reactions in nuclear reactors because of its ability to absorb neutrons.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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