ba·salt (bə-sôlt, bāsôlt′)
1. A hard, dense, dark igneous rock composed chiefly of plagioclase feldspar, pyroxene, and olivine, and often having a glassy appearance.
2. A kind of hard unglazed pottery.
[From New Latin basaltēn, a misreading (in manuscripts of Pliny) of Latin basanītēn, accusative of basanītēs, a word Pliny uses of several kinds of rock, including a hard ironlike rock that the Egyptians obtained in Ethiopia, from Greek basanītēs (lithos), touchstone : basanos, touchstone (ultimately (perhaps via Lydian) from Egyptian bḫn, graywacke) + -ītēs, adjectival suffix.]
ba·saltic (-sôltĭk) adj.
(click for a larger image)basalt
columnar basalt at Sheepeater Cliff, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.