type of mineral that can be separated easily into extremely thin, tough laminae, 1706, from a Modern Latin specialized use of Latin mica "crumb, bit, morsel, grain." This is sometimes said to be from the same source as Attic Greek mikros "small" (see micro-). The word was applied to the mineral probably on the supposition that it was related to Latin micare "to flash, glitter" (see micacious). However a recent theory of the origin of the Latin noun does derive it from the same root as micare, on the notion of "a glittering crystalline particle" (originally a grain of salt), which de Vaan finds "formally more attractive" than the connection to the Greek word. Older native names for it were glimmer and cat-silver. Related: Micaceous "containing mica" (1748).
updated on January 13, 2019