One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Geology. A natural coke-like material, typically formed by the action of igneous intrusions on bituminous coal deposits. Now rare.
2Chemistry. A salt or ester of an oxyacid in which carbon is divalent or supposedly so; specifically a salt of an anion CO₂ 2−. Also (in non-technical use): a basic carbonate (of lead, copper, etc.).
3Science Fiction. (The name of) a carbon-based material in which a person can be cryogenically preserved.
Early 19th century; earliest use found in Richard Kirwan (1733–1812), chemist and mineralogist. From carbon + -ite.
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