AskDefine | Define lodestone

Dictionary Definition

lodestone n : a permanent magnet consisting of magnetite that possess polarity and has the power to attract as well as to be attracted magnetically [syn: loadstone]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Noun

  1. A naturally occuring magnet.
  2. An obsolete term for the mineral magnetite.

Extensive Definition

Lodestone or loadstone refers to either:
  • A piece of intensely magnetic magnetite that was used as an early form of magnetic compass.
Iron, steel and ordinary magnetite are attracted to a magnetic field, including the Earth's magnetic field. Only magnetite with a particular crystalline structure, lodestone, can act as a natural magnet and attract and magnetize iron. The name "magnet" comes from lodestones found in a place called Magnesia.
In China, the earliest literary reference to magnetism lies in a 4th century BC book called Book of the Devil Valley Master (鬼谷子): "The lodestone makes iron come or it attracts it." The earliest mention of the attraction of a needle appears in a work composed between 20 and 100 AD (Louen-heng): "A lodestone attracts a needle." By the 12th century the Chinese were known to use the lodestone compass for navigation.

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Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

ambition, artificial magnet, bar magnet, catch, dearest wish, desideration, desideratum, desire, electromagnetic lifting magnet, field magnet, forbidden fruit, glimmering goal, golden vision, hope, horseshoe magnet, lodestar, magnet, magnetic needle, magnetite, paramagnet, plum, polestar, prize, solenoid, temptation, trophy, wish
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