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Fluorite derives from the Latin noun fluo, meaning a stream or flow of water. In verb form this was fluor or fluere, meaning to flow. The mineral is used as a flux in iron smelting to decrease the viscosity of slags. The melting point of calcium fluoride is 1676 K. The term flux comes from the Latin noun fluxus, a wash or current of water. The mineral fluorite was originally termed fluorospar and was first discussed in print in a 1530 work Bermannus, sive de re metallica dialogus [Bermannus; or a dialogue about the nature of metals], by Georgius Agricola, as a mineral noted for its usefulness as a flux. Agricola, a German scientist with expertise in philology, mining, and metallurgy, named fluorspar as a Neo Latinization of the German Flussspat from Fluß (stream, river) and "Spat" (meaning a nonmetallic mineral akin to gypsum, spærstān, spear stone, referring to its crystalline projections).

In 1852, fluorite gave its name to the phenomenon of fluorescence, which is prominent in fluorites from certain locations, due to certain impurities in the crystal. Fluorite also gave the name to its constitutive element fluorine. Presently, the word "fluorspar" is most commonly used for fluorite as the industrial and chemical commodity, while "fluorite" is used mineralogically and in most other senses.