One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A diatomaceous earth resembling kaolin.
Mid 19th century; earliest use found in James Dana (1813–1895), geologist, zoologist, and teacher. From French randanite, also randannite, apparently from Randan, the name of a small town in the department of Puy-de-Dôme in central France, where the earth is found + -ite. The rarer French form randannite suggests association with Randanne, another smaller place in the same department, where more abundant deposits of the earth occur.
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