One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A living or fossil scleractinian coral of the genus Porites or family Poritidae, typically forming large aggregations and having a characteristically porous skeleton. Also (in form "porites"): the material of this skeleton, used locally as a building stone.
Mid 19th century; earliest use found in Transactions of the American Philosophical Society. From scientific Latin porites, specific name of a coral (called Madrepora porites in P. S. Pallas Elenchus zoophytorum 324 and in Linnaeus Systema Natura (ed. 12) of the same year; later applied as a genus name to a fossil coral by J. E. Guettard 1770 in Mém. Differentes Parties Sci. & Arts ii. 358, and to a living coral by H. F. Link Beschreibung der Naturalien-Sammlung der Univ. zu Rostock 163) from either post-classical Latin porus or ancient Greek πῶρος calcareous stone, stalactite + scientific Latin -ites.
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