kaolin (n.)

"china clay, fine clay from the decomposition of feldspar," 1727, from French kaolin (1712), from Chinese Kaoling, old-style transliteration (pinyin Gaoling) of the name of a mountain in Jiangxi province, China (near which it was dug up and made into porcelain of high quality and international reputation), from Chinese gao "high" + ling "mountain, hill, ridge." OED points out that this is a French pronunciation of a Chinese word that in the English of the day would be better represented by *kauwling. Related: kaolinic; kaolinite.

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