One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Any of various dark-coloured porphyritic (especially basaltic) rocks. Later: specifically an altered basalt, especially of Carboniferous or Permian age.
Early 19th century; earliest use found in Henry Thomas De la Beche (1796–1855), geologist. From French mélaphyre from ancient Greek μέλας black + -phyre (in porphyre).
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