Slate is a fine-grained, foliated, homogeneous metamorphic rock derived from an original shale-type sedimentary rock composed of clay or volcanic ash through low-grade regional metamorphism.
The result is a foliated rock in which the foliation may not correspond to the original sedimentary layering. When expertly "cut" by striking with a specialized tool in the quarry, many slates will form smooth flat sheets of stone which have long been used for roofing and floor tiles and other purposes. Slate is frequently grey in color, especially when seen, en masse, covering roofs. However, slate occurs in a variety of colors even from a single locality; for example, slate from North Wales can be found in many shades of grey, from pale to dark, and may also be purple, green or cyan. Slate is not to be confused with shale, from which it may be formed, or schist. Ninety percent of Europe's natural slate used for roofing originates from Spain.
The word "slate" is also used for some objects made from slate. It may mean a single roofing slate, or a writing slate, traditionally a small piece of slate, often framed in wood, used with chalk as a notepad or noticeboard etc., and especially for recording charges in pubs and inns. The phrase "clean slate" or "blank slate" comes from this use.