Summary: A study of augite in over three hundred thin sections of mainly alkalic rocks permits the distinction of two main types of hour-glass structure. The common ‘swallow-tailed’, sometimes skeletal augite crystals are found in the fine-grained groundmass of many rock types, and it is suggested that rapid crystallization alone accounts for their formation. Hence, this type of hour-glass structure has been called ‘quench hour-glass’. The hour-glass structures of larger augite crystals of porphyritic and coarse-grained rocks are commonly described as hour-glass ‘zoning’, as they result primarily from compositional differences between the different sectors. These were formed under conditions of relatively slower cooling than the ‘quench hour-glass’, and thus cannot be explained in the same way. They are thought to have formed by a process involving adsorption of impurities on a particular crystal face so as to impede growth of these faces, producing an initial skeleton of hour-glass form, which is completed by later crystallization of augite richer in FeO, Na2O, TiO2, and Al2O3. This hypothesis also explains the patchy zoning of other augite crystals, casting doubt on some petrogenetic interpretations of such zones as core zones.