eli5: Why do so many rocks and minerals end with -ite?



Malachite, Andalusite, Pyrite, Benstonite, &c.

In: Earth Science

In greek ITE can refer to a rock, so its like saying malich stones or andalus rocks. It is popular for modern languages to rename things using ancient languages. Im not sure if ITE has always been used since the greeks or if someone more recently started referring to rocks that way. Throughout science its a mixture of both.

^*Edited ^some ^stuff ^for ^clarity*

It’s from the Ancient Greek suffix -ιτης. It’s a (masculine) suffix to create nouns that denote the person has those characteristics.

Όπλον/hoplon (shield) -> Οπλίτης/hoplite (he who carries a shield)

It came to be used for minerals because plenty of them already had a name like that:

Μαλάχη/Malache (a plant, Malva sylvestris) ->Μαλαχίτης/Malachite (he who looks like a Malache)

αίμα/hema (blood) -> Αιματίτης/Hematite (he who looks like blood)

And so on. The reason they’re masculine is because they’re used to describe the word λίθος/lithos (stone), a masculine word (itself responsible for the -lith suffix in other minerals)