This article lists the etymology of chemical elements of the periodic table.


Throughout the history of chemistry, several chemical elements have been discovered. In the nineteenth century, Dmitri Mendeleev formulated the periodic table, a table of elements which describes their structure. Because elements have been discovered at various times and places, from antiquity through the present day, their names have derived from several languages and cultures.

Named after places

Main article: List of chemical elements named after places

Forty-one of the 118 chemical elements have names associated with, or specifically named for, places around the world or among astronomical objects. Thirty-two of these have names tied to the places on the Earth and the other nine have names connected to bodies in the Solar System: helium for the Sun; tellurium for the Earth; selenium for the Moon; mercury (indirectly), uranium, neptunium and plutonium for the major planets (note: Pluto was still considered a planet at the time of plutonium's naming); cerium for the dwarf planet Ceres (also considered a planet at the time of naming) and palladium for the asteroid Pallas.[1]

Named after people

Main article: List of chemical elements named after people

Nineteen elements are connected with the names of twenty people (as curium honours both Marie and Pierre Curie). Fifteen elements were named after scientists; four other have indirect connection to the names of non-scientists.[1] Only gadolinium and samarium occur in nature; the rest are synthetic. Glenn T. Seaborg and Yuri Oganessian were the only two who were alive at the time of being honored with having elements named after them, and Oganessian is the only one still living. Elements named after four non-scientists in this table were actually named for a place or thing which in turn had been named for these people: Samarium was named for the mineral samarskite from which it was isolated. Berkelium and livermorium are named after cities of Berkeley, California and Livermore, California are the locations of the University of California Radiation Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, respectively. Americium is indirectly connected to Amerigo Vespucci via America.

Named after mythological entities

Also, mythological entities have had a significant impact on the naming of elements, directly or indirectly. Cerium, europium, helium, iridium, mercury, neptunium, niobium, palladium, plutonium, promethium, selenium, titanium, thorium, uranium and vanadium and all connected to mythological deities.

Named after minerals

Elements may also have been named after minerals (in which they were discovered). For example, beryllium is named after beryl.

Controversies and failed proposals

Main articles: List of chemical elements naming controversies and Transfermium wars

Other element names given after people have been proposed but failed to gain official international recognition. These include columbium (Cb), hahnium (Ha), joliotium (Jl), and kurchatovium (Ku), names connected to Christopher Columbus, Otto Hahn, Irène Joliot-Curie, and Igor Kurchatov; and also cassiopeium (Cp), a name coming from the constellation Cassiopeia and is hence indirectly connected to the mythological Cassiopeia.

Current naming practices and procedures

Main article: Systematic element name

For the last two decades, IUPAC has been the governing body for naming elements. IUPAC has also provided a temporary name and symbol for unknown or recently synthesized elements.


Etymology of the chemical element names
Element Original word Language of origin Meaning Nature of origin
Z Description (symbol etymology, former names)
Hydrogen (H) 1 ὕδωρ (root: ὑδρ-) + γενής (hydor genes) Greek via Latin and French "water + begetter" descriptive
From French hydrogène[2] and Latin hydro- and -genes, derived from the Greek ὕδωρ γείνομαι (hydor geinomai), meaning "Ι beget water".
Helium (He) 2 ἥλιος (hélios) Greek "sun" astrological;
Named after the Greek ἥλιος (helios), meaning "the sun" or the mythological sun-god.[3] It was first identified by its characteristic emission lines in the Sun's spectrum.
Lithium (Li) 3 λίθος (lithos) Greek "stone"
From Greek λίθος (lithos) meaning "stone", because it was discovered from a mineral while other common alkali metals (sodium and potassium) were discovered from plant tissue.
Beryllium (Be) 4 ?City of Belur via Greek βήρυλλος (beryllos) Sanskrit, Pali, and Prakrit via Greek, Latin, Old French, and Middle English ?"beryl", a mineral descriptive (colour)
βήρυλλος (beryllos), denoting beryl, which contains beryllium.[4] The word is derived (via Latin: beryllus and French: béryl) from the Greek βήρυλλος (bērullos), "a blue-green spar", from Prakrit वॆरुलिय‌ (veruliya), from Pāli वेलुरिय (veḷuriya), भेलिरु (veḷiru) or भिलर् (viḷar): "to become pale", in reference to the pale semiprecious gemstone beryl.[5]
Boron (B) 5 بورق (buraq) Arabic, Medieval Latin, Anglo-Norman, Middle French, and Middle English
From the Arabic بورق (buraq), which refers to borax. Possibly derived from Persian بوره (burah). The Arabic was adapted as Medieval Latin baurach, Anglo-Norman boreis, and Middle English boras, which became the source of the English "boron".
Carbon (C) 6 charbone Latin via French "charcoal"
From the French charbone, which in turn came from Latin carbō, meaning "charcoal" and is related to carbōn, meaning "a coal". (The German and Dutch names, "Kohlenstoff" and "koolstof", respectively, both literally mean "coal matter".) These words were derived from the Proto-Indo-European base *ker- meaning "heat", "fire", or "to burn".[6]
Nitrogen (N) 7 νίτρον (Latin: nitrum) -γενής (-genes) Greek via Latin and French "native-soda begetter" descriptive
From French nitrogène[7] derived from Greek νίτρον γείνομαι (nitron geinomai), meaning "I form/beget native-soda (niter)".[8]
 · Former name azote (French), from Greek ἄζωτος (azōtos) "lifeless" but possibly inspired by azoth, one of the alchemical names of mercury, from Andalusian Arabic al-zuq, the Classical Arabic name of that element.
Oxygen (O) 8 ὀξύ γείνομαι (oxy geinomai)/oxygène Greek via French "to bring forth acid"
From Greek ὀξύ γείνομαι (oxy geinomai), meaning "Ι bring forth acid", as it was believed to be an essential component of acids. This phrase was corrupted into the French oxygène, which became the source of the English "oxygen".[9]
Fluorine (F) 9 fluor Latin "a flowing"
From Latin fluor meaning "a flowing", from mineral name fluorspar (calcium fluoride). Fluorspar was used to make iron flowing in smelting.
Neon (Ne) 10 νέος (neos) Greek "new"
From Greek νέος (neos), meaning "new".
Sodium (Na) 11 soda English
From the English "soda", used in names for sodium compounds such as caustic soda, soda ash, and baking soda. Probably from Italian sida (or directly from Medieval Latin soda) meaning "a kind of saltwort", from which soda was obtained, of uncertain origin.[12]
 · Symbol Na is from the Modern Latin noun natrium, derived from Greek νίτρον (nítron), "natural soda, a kind of salt".[10] The original source is either the Arabic word نطرون (natrun) or the Egyptian word netjeri.[11]
Magnesium (Mg) 12 Μαγνησία (Magnesia) Greek toponym
From the Ancient Greek Μαγνησία (Magnesia) (district in Thessaly), where it was discovered.
Aluminium (Al) 13 alumen Latin "alum" (literally: bitter salt)[13]
Latin alumen, which means "alum" (literally: bitter salt).
Silicon (Si) 14 silex, silicis Latin "flint" descriptive
From Latin silex or silicis, which means "flint", a kind of stone (chiefly silicon dioxide).
Phosphorus (P) 15 φῶς + φόρος (phos + phoros) Greek via Latin[14] "light-bearer" descriptive
From Greek φῶς + φόρος (phos + phoros), which means "light bearer", because white phosphorus emits a faint glow upon exposure to oxygen.
Phosphorus was the ancient name for Venus, or Hesperus, the Morning Star.[3]
Sulfur (S) 16 Old Latin sulpur
(later sulphur, sulfur)

Proto-Indo-European *swépl̥
(genitive *sulplós),
nominal derivative of *swelp.[15]

Proto-Indo-European (PIE)
"to burn"
The word came into Middle English from Anglo-Norman sulfre, itself derived through Old French soulfre from Late Latin sulfur.[16] From Proto-Indo-European *swelp "to burn"
Chlorine (Cl) 17 χλωρός (chlorós) Greek "pale green"[17] descriptive (colour)
From Greek χλωρός (chlorós), which means "yellowish green" or "greenish yellow", because of the colour of the gas.
Argon (Ar) 18 ἀργόν (argon) Greek "inactive" descriptive
Greek argon means "inactive" (literally: "slow").
Potassium (K) 19 potassa; potasch via potash[18] Modern Latin via Dutch and English[19] "pot-ash"
From the English "potash", which means "pot-ash" (potassium compound prepared from an alkali extracted in a 'pot' from the 'ash' of burnt wood or tree leaves).
Potash is a calque of the Dutch potaschen, which means "pot ashes".[19]
 · Symbol K is for the Latin name kalium, from Arabic القلي (al qalīy), which means "calcined ashes".
Calcium (Ca) 20 χάλιξ/calx Greek/Latin "pebble"/"limestone"[20]
From Latin calx, which means "lime". Calcium was known as early as the first century when the Ancient Romans prepared lime as calcium oxide.
Scandium (Sc) 21 Scandia Latin "Scandinavia" toponym
Named from Latin Scandia, "Scandinavia".
 · Former name eka-boron[21]
Titanium (Ti) 22 Τιτάν, GEN: Τιτάνος (Titan) Greek "Titans", sons of Gaia mythological
For the "Titans", the first sons of Gaia in Greek mythology.[3]
Vanadium (V) 23 Vanadís Old Norse "Dís of the Vanir" mythological
From Old Norse Vanadís, one of the names of the Vanr goddess Freyja in Norse mythology, because of multicoloured chemical compounds deemed beautiful.[3][22]
Chromium (Cr) 24 χρῶμα (chróma) Greek via French "colour" descriptive (colour)
From Greek χρῶμα (chróma), "colour", because of its multicoloured compounds. This word was adapted as the French chrome, and adding the suffix -ium created the English "chromium".[23]
Manganese (Mn) 25 Μαγνησία
Medieval Latin: magnesia)
Greek via Latin, Italian, and French "Magnesia", Greece descriptive, toponym
From Latin Magnesia, ultimately from Ancient Greek region Magnesia. The word Magnesia evolved into manganese in Italian and into manganèse in French.
Iron (Fe) 26 īsern
(earlier: īren/īsen)
Anglo-Saxon via Middle English "holy metal or strong metal"[24] descriptive
From the Anglo-Saxon īsern which is derived from Proto-Germanic isarnan meaning "holy metal" or "strong metal".
 · Symbol Fe is from Latin ferrum, meaning "iron".
Cobalt (Co) 27 Kobold German "goblin"
From German Kobold, which means "goblin". The metal was named by miners, because it was poisonous and troublesome (polluted and degraded by other mined elements, such as nickel). Other sources cite the origin in the silver miners' belief that cobalt had been placed by "Kobolds", who had stolen the silver. Some suggest that the name may have been derived from Greek κόβαλος (kobalos), which means "mine" and which may have common roots with kobold, goblin, and cobalt.
Nickel (Ni) 28 Kopparnickel/
Swedish via German[25] "copper-coloured ore" descriptive
From the Swedish kopparnickel, meaning "copper-coloured ore". This referred to the ore niccolite from which it was obtained.[25]
Copper (Cu) 29 Κύπριος (Kyprios)? Greek? via Latin, West Germanic, Old English, and Middle English[26] "who/which is from Cyprus" toponym
Possibly derived from Greek Κύπριος (Kyprios) (which comes from Κύπρος (Kypros), the Greek name of Cyprus) via Latin cuprum, West Germanic *kupar, Old English coper/copor, and Middle English coper. The Latin term, during the Roman Empire, was aes cyprium; aes was the generic term for copper alloys such as bronze. Cyprium means "Cyprus" or "which is from Cyprus", where so much of it was mined; it was simplified to cuprum and then eventually Anglicized as "copper" (Old English coper/copor).
 · Symbol Cu is from the Latin name cuprum ("copper").
Zinc (Zn) 30 Zink German ?"Cornet"
From German Zink which is related to Zinken "prong, point", probably alluding to its spiky crystals. May be derived from Old Persian.
Gallium (Ga) 31 Gallia Latin "Gaul" (Ancient France) toponym
From Latin Gallia, which means "Gaul" (Ancient France), and also gallus, which means "rooster". The element was obtained as free metal by Lecoq de Boisbaudran, who named it after his native land France. Allegations were later made that he had also named it for himself, as gallus is Latin for le coq ("rooster"), but he denied that this had been his intention.[27]
 · Former name eka-aluminium by Mendeleev, who predicted its existence.[21]
Germanium (Ge) 32 Germania Latin "Germany" toponym
From Latin Germania, which means "Germany".
 · Former name eka-silicon by Mendeleev.[21]
Arsenic (As) 33 ἀρσενικόν (arsenikon) Syriac/Persian via Greek, Latin, Old French, and Middle English ?"male" descriptive (colour)
From Greek ἀρσενικόν (arsenikon), which is adapted from Syriac ܠܫܢܐܠܐ ܙܐܦܢܝܐ ((al) zarniqa)[28] and Persian زرنيخ (zarnik), "yellow orpiment". The Greek arsenikon is paretymologically related to the Greek word ἀρσενικός (arsenikos), which means "masculine" or "potent". These words were adapted as the Latin arsenicum and Old French arsenic, which is the source for the English arsenic.[28]
Selenium (Se) 34 σελήνη (selene) Greek "moon" astrological;
From Greek σελήνη (selene), which means "Moon", and also moon-goddess Selene.[3]
Bromine (Br) 35 βρόμος (brómos)[29] Greek via French "dirt" or "stench" (of male-goat)[30]
βρόμος (brómos) means "stench" (literally: "clangor"), due to its characteristic smell.
Krypton (Kr) 36 κρυπτός (kryptos) Greek "hidden" descriptive
From Greek κρυπτός (kryptos), which means "hidden one", because of its colourless, odorless, tasteless, gaseous properties, as well as its rarity in nature.
Rubidium (Rb) 37 rubidus Latin "deepest red" descriptive (colour)
From Latin rubidus, which means "deepest red", because of the colour of a spectral line.
Strontium (Sr) 38 Strontian Scottish Gaelic via English proper name toponym
Named after strontianite, the mineral. Strontianite itself was named after the town of Strontian (Scotland) where the mineral was found; Sròn an t-Sìthein literally means "nose ['point'] of the fairy hill".
Yttrium (Y) 39 Ytterby Swedish proper name toponym
Named after the mineral yttria (yttriumoxide), where it was originally extracted from. Yttria itself was named after Ytterby, Sweden.[31]
Zirconium (Zr) 40 ܙܐܪܓܥܢܥ (zargono),[32]
زرگون (zargûn)
Syriac/Persian via Arabic and German "gold-like"
From Arabic زركون (zarkûn). Derived from Persian زرگون (zargûn), which means "gold-like". Zirkon is the German variant of these and is the origin of the English zircon.[33]
Niobium (Nb) 41 Νιόβη (Niobe) Greek "snowy" mythological
Named after Niobe, daughter of Tantalus in classical mythology.[22][3]
 · Former name columbium from Columbia, personification of America.
Molybdenum (Mo) 42 μόλυβδος (molybdos) Greek "lead-like" descriptive
From Greek μόλυβδος (molybdos), "lead", due to confusion with lead ore galena.
Technetium (Tc) 43 τεχνητός (technetos) Greek "artificial" descriptive
From Greek τεχνητός (technetos), which means "artificial", because it was the first artificially produced element.
 · Former name eka-manganese[21]
Ruthenium (Ru) 44 Ruthenia Latin "Ruthenia", Kievan Rus'[34] toponym (exonym)
From Latin Ruthenia, geographical exonym for Kievan Rus'.
Rhodium (Rh) 45 ῥόδον (rhodon) Greek "rose" descriptive (colour)
From Greek ῥόδον (rhodon), which means "rose". From its rose-red compounds.
Palladium (Pd) 46 Παλλάς (genitive: Παλλάδος) (Pallas) Greek via Latin "little maiden"[35] astrological;
Named after Pallas, the asteroid discovered two years earlier. The asteroid itself was named after Pallas Athena, goddess of wisdom and victory.[3] The word Palladium is derived from Greek Παλλάδιον and is the neuter version of Παλλάδιος, meaning "of Pallas".[36]
Silver (Ag) 47 𒊭𒁺𒁍/𒊭𒅈𒇥 (siolfor/seolfor) Akkadian via Anglo-Saxon and Middle English "to refine", "smelt"
Possibly borrowed from Akkadian 𒊭𒅈𒇥 (sarpu) "refined silver" and related to 𒊭𒁺𒁍 (sarapu) "to refine", "smelt".[37]
From the Anglo-Saxon, seolfor which was derived from Proto-Germanic *silubra-; compare Old High German silabar; and has cognates in Balto-Slavic languages: sĭrebro, sidabras, Old Prussian sirablan.
Alternatively, possibly from one of the Pre-Indo-European languages, compare zilar.
 · Symbol Ag is from the Latin name argentum ("silver"), which is derived from Proto-Indo-European *arg-ent-.
Cadmium (Cd) 48 καδμεία (kadmeia) Greek/Latin "Earth" (as classical element),
"calamine" or Cadmean earth[?]
From Latin cadmia, which is derived from Greek καδμεία (kadmeia) and means "calamine", a cadmium-bearing mixture of minerals. Cadmium is named after Cadmus (in Greek: Κάδμος: Kadmos), a character in Greek mythology and calamine is derived from Le Calamine, the French name of the Belgian town of Kelmis.
Indium (In) 49 indigo Greek via Latin and English descriptive (colour)
Named after indigo, because of an indigo-coloured spectrum line. The English word indigo is from Spanish indico and Dutch indigo (from Portuguese endego), from Latin indigo, from Greek ἰνδικόν (indikon): "blue dye from India".
Tin (Sn) 50 tin Anglo-Saxon via Middle English
The word tin is borrowed from a Proto-Indo-European language, and has cognates in several Germanic and Celtic languages.[38]
 · Symbol Sn is from its Latin name stannum.
Antimony (Sb) 51 Greek? via Medieval Latin and Middle English[41] various
Possibly from Greek ἀντί + μόνος (anti + monos), approximately meaning "opposed to solitude", as believed never to exist in pure form, or ἀντί + μοναχός (anti + monachos) for "monk-killer" (in French folk etymology, anti-moine "monk's bane"), because many early alchemists were monks, and antimony is poisonous. This may also be derived from the Pharaonic (ancient Egyptian), Antos Ammon (expression), which could be translated as "bloom of the god Ammo".
 · Symbol Sb is from Latin name stibium, which is derived from Greek Στίβι (stíbi), a variant of στίμμι (stimmi); genitive: στίμμεος or στίμμιδος; probably a loan word from Arabic or Egyptian sdm meaning "eyepaint".
Tellurium (Te) 52 Tellus Latin "Earth"
From Latin tellus, "Earth".
Iodine (I) 53 ἰώδης (iodes) Greek via French "violet" descriptive (colour)
Named after the Greek ἰώδης (iodes), which means "violet", because of the colour of the gaseous phase. This word was adapted as the French iode, which is the source of the English "iodine".[42]
Xenon (Xe) 54 ξένος (xenos) Greek "foreign"
From the Greek adjective ξένος (xenos): "foreign", "a stranger".
Caesium (Cs) 55 caesius Latin "blue-gray"[43] or "sky blue" descriptive (colour)
From Latin caesius, which means "sky blue". Its identification was based upon the bright-blue lines in its spectrum, and it was the first element discovered by spectrum analysis.
Barium (Ba) 56 βαρύς (barys) Greek via Modern Latin "heavy"
βαρύς (barys) means "heavy". The oxide was initially called "barote", then "baryta", which was modified to "barium" to describe the metal. Sir Humphry Davy gave the element this name because it was originally found in baryte, which shares the same source.[44]
Lanthanum (La) 57 λανθάνειν (lanthanein) Greek "to escape notice"
From Greek λανθάνω (lanthánō), "I escape notice".
Cerium (Ce) 58 ceres Latin "grain", "bread" astrological;
Named after the asteroid Ceres, discovered two years earlier. The asteroid itself, now classified as a dwarf planet, was named after Ceres, the goddess of fertility in Roman mythology.[3] Ceres is derived from Proto-Indo-European *ker-es- from base *ker- meaning "to grow".[45][46]
Praseodymium (Pr) 59 πράσιος δίδυμος (prasios didymos) Greek "green twin" descriptive
From Greek πράσιος δίδυμος (prasios didymos), meaning "green twin", because didymium[47] separates into praseodymium and neodymium.
Neodymium (Nd) 60 νέος δίδυμος (neos didymos) Greek "new twin" descriptive
From Greek νέος διδύμος (neos didymos), which means "new twin", because didymium[47] separated into praseodymium and neodymium.
Promethium (Pm) 61 Προμηθεύς (Prometheus) Greek "forethought"[48] mythological
Named after Prometheus (a god in classical mythology), who stole the fire of heaven and gave it to mankind.[3]
Samarium (Sm) 62 Samarsky-Bykhovets, Vassili eponym
Named after the mineral samarskite, itself named after Colonel Vassili Samarsky-Bykhovets, a Russian mine official.
Europium (Eu) 63 Εὐρώπη (Europe) Ancient Greek "broad-faced" or "well-watered" toponym;
Named for Europe, where it was discovered. Europe itself was named after the fictional Phoenician princess Europa.
Gadolinium (Gd) 64 Gadolin, Johan Finnish eponym
Named in honour of Johan Gadolin,[49] who was one of the founders of Nordic chemistry research, and who discovered § yttrium. The mineral gadolinite is also named after him.
Terbium (Tb) 65 Ytterby Swedish proper name toponym
Named after Ytterby, the village in Sweden where the element was first discovered.[31]
Dysprosium (Dy) 66 δυσπρόσιτος (dysprositos) Greek "hard to get at" descriptive
From Greek δυσπρόσιτος (dysprositos), which means "hard to get at".
Holmium (Ho) 67 Holmia Latin "Stockholm" toponym
From Latin Holmia, "Stockholm".
Erbium (Er) 68 Ytterby Swedish proper name toponym
Named after Ytterby, Sweden, where large concentrations of minerals yttria and erbia are located. Erbia and terbia were confused at this time. After 1860, what had been known as terbia was renamed erbia, and after 1877, what had been known as erbia was renamed terbia.[31]
Thulium (Tm) 69 Θούλη (Thoúlē)[50] Greek "Thule" mythological
Named after Thule, an ancient Roman and Greek name (Θούλη) for a mythical country in the far north, perhaps Scandinavia.
Ytterbium (Yb) 70 Ytterby Swedish proper name toponym
Named after ytterbia, the oxide compound of ytterbium. Ytterbia itself was named after Ytterby, Sweden.[31][22]
Lutetium (Lu) 71 Lutetia Latin "Paris" toponym
Named after the Latin Lutetia (Gaulish for "place of mud"), the city of Paris.[22]
Hafnium (Hf) 72 Hafnia Latin "Copenhagen" toponym
From Latin Hafnia: "Copenhagen", Denmark.
Tantalum (Ta) 73 Τάνταλος (Tantalus) Greek possibly "the bearer" or "the sufferer"[51] mythological
Named after the Greek Τάνταλος (Tantalus), who was punished after death by being condemned to stand knee-deep in water. If he bent to drink the water, it drained below the level he could reach (in Greek mythology). This was considered similar to tantalum's general non-reactivity (that is, "unreachability") because of its inertness (it sits among reagents and is unaffected by them).[3]
Tungsten (W) 74 tung sten Swedish and Danish "heavy stone" descriptive
From the Swedish and Danish "tung sten", which means "heavy stone".
 · Symbol W is from the German name Wolfram.
 · Former name Wolfrahm (German, literally "wolf cream") was the historical name. The names wolfram or volfram are still used in Swedish and several other languages.[22]
Rhenium (Re) 75 Rhenus Latin "Rhine" toponym
From Latin Rhenus, the river Rhine.
Osmium (Os) 76 ὀσμή (osme) Greek via Modern Latin "a smell" descriptive
From Greek ὀσμή (osme), meaning "a smell", as osmium tetroxide is foul-smelling.
Iridium (Ir) 77 ἴρις (genitive: ἴριδος) (iris) Greek via Latin "of rainbows" descriptive (colour)
Named after the Latin noun iris, which means "rainbow, iris plant, iris of the eye", because many of its salts are strongly coloured; Iris was originally the name of the goddess of rainbows and a messenger in Greek mythology.[3]
Platinum (Pt) 78 platina (del Pinto) Spanish via Modern Latin "little silver" (of the Pinto River)[52] descriptive
From the Spanish, platina, which means "little silver", because it was first encountered in a silver mine. The modern Spanish is platino. Platina is a diminutive of plata (silver); it is a loan word from French plate or Provençal plata (sheet of metal) and is the origin of the English "plate".[53]
Gold (Au) 79 gold Anglo-Saxon via Middle English descriptive (colour)
From the Anglo-Saxon "gold", from Proto-Indo-European *ghel- meaning "yellow/ bright".
 · Symbol Au is from Latin aurum, which means "shining dawn".[54]
Mercury (Hg) 80 Mercurius Latin "Mercury", Roman god mythological
Named after Mercury, the god of speed and messenger of the Gods, as was the planet Mercury named after the god.
 · Symbol Hg is from the Latin hydrargyrum, which is from the Greek words ὕδωρ and ἀργυρός (hydor and argyros). Meaning "water-silver", because it is a liquid like water (at room temperature), and has a silvery metallic sheen.[3][55]
Thallium (Tl) 81 θαλλός (thallos) Greek "green twig" descriptive
From Greek θαλλός (thallos), which means "a green shoot (twig)", because of its bright-green spectral emission lines.
Lead (Pb) 82 lead Anglo-Saxon
 · Symbol Pb is from the Latin name plumbum, still visible in the English plumbing.[3][56]
Bismuth (Bi) 83 bisemutum Modern Latin from German "white mass" descriptive (colour)
bisemutum is derived from German Wismuth, perhaps from weiße Masse, and means "white mass", due to its appearance.
Polonium (Po) 84 Polonia Latin "Poland" toponym
Named after Poland, homeland of discoverer Marie Curie.
 · Former name radium F
Astatine (At) 85 ἄστατος (astatos) Greek "unstable"
From Greek ἄστατος (astatos), meaning "unstable".
 · Former name alabamine (Ab) was an earlier proposed name for astatine
Radon (Rn) 86 radium Latin via German and English[57]
Contraction of radium emanation, since the element appears in the radioactive decay of radium.
 · Former name niton (Nt), from Latin nitens "shining", because of the radioluminescence of radon.
Francium (Fr) 87 France French toponym
Named for France (literally: "Land of the Franks"), where it was discovered (at the Curie Institute, Paris).
Radium (Ra) 88 radius Latin via French "ray" descriptive
From Latin radius meaning "ray", because of its radioactivity.
Actinium (Ac) 89 ἀκτίς (aktis) Greek "beam"
From Greek ἀκτίς/ἀκτῖνος (aktis/aktinos), which means "beam (ray)".
Thorium (Th) 90 Þōrr (Thor) Old Norse "thunder" mythological
From Old Norse Þōrr (Thor), a god associated with thunder in Norse mythology.[3]
 · Former name ionium (Io) was given early in the study of radioactive elements to the Thorium-230 isotope.
Protactinium (Pa) 91 πρῶτος + ἀκτίς Greek "first beam element" descriptive?
From Greek proto- "first" + Neo-Latin actinium (itself from Greek ἀκτίς, gen.[?]: ἀκτῖνος) "ray": proto(-)actinium, later shortened to protactinium.[58]
Uranium (U) 92 Οὐρανός (Ouranos); "Uranus" Greek via Latin "sky" astrological;
Named after the planet Uranus, which had been discovered eight years earlier in 1781. The planet was named after the god Uranus, the god of sky and heaven in Greek mythology.[3]
Neptunium (Np) 93 Neptunus Latin "Neptune" astrological;
Named for Neptune, the planet. The planet itself was named after the god Neptune, the god of oceans in Roman mythology.[3]
Plutonium (Pu) 94 Πλούτων (Ploutōn) via "Pluto" Greek via Latin "god of wealth"[59] astrological;
Named after the dwarf planet Pluto (then considered to be the ninth planet), because it was discovered directly after element neptunium (§ Np) and is higher than element uranium (§ U) in the periodic table. Thus, plutonium was named by analogy with the ordering of the planets, ending with Pluto. Pluto itself was named after Pluto, a Greek god of the dead.[3] Greek Πλούτων (Ploutōn) is related to the word πλοῦτος (ploutos) meaning "wealth".
Americium (Am) 95 America toponym
Named for the Americas, because it was discovered in the United States; by analogy with europium (§ Eu). The name of the continent America itself is derived from the name of the Italian navigator Amerigo Vespucci.
Curium (Cm) 96 Curie, Marie and Pierre eponym
Named in honour of Marie and Pierre Curie, who discovered radium and researched radioactivity.
Berkelium (Bk) 97 University of California, Berkeley Anglo-Saxon via English toponym
Named for the University of California, Berkeley, where it was discovered. The city of Berkeley itself was named after George Berkeley.
Californium (Cf) 98 California English toponym
Named for the state of California, US, and for the University of California, Berkeley. The origin of the state's name itself is disputed.
Einsteinium (Es) 99 Einstein, Albert German eponym
Named in honour of Albert Einstein, for his work on theoretical physics, which included the photoelectric effect.
Fermium (Fm) 100 Fermi, Enrico Italian Italian surname eponym
Named in honour of Enrico Fermi, who developed the first nuclear reactor, quantum theory, nuclear and particle physics, and statistical mechanics.
Mendelevium (Md) 101 Mendeleyev, Dmitri eponym
Named in honour of Dmitri Mendeleyev, who invented periodic table.[60]
 · Former name eka-thulium.[21]
Nobelium (No) 102 Nobel, Alfred eponym
Named in honour of Alfred Nobel, who invented dynamite and instituted the Nobel Prizes foundation.
Lawrencium (Lr) 103 Lawrence, Ernest eponym
Named in honour of Ernest Lawrence, who was involved in the development of the cyclotron.
 · Symbol Lw was used formerly, Lr is used since 1963.[22]
Rutherfordium (Rf) 104 Rutherford, Ernest eponym
Named in honour of Ernest Rutherford, who pioneered the Bohr model of the atom. Rutherfordium has also been called kurchatovium (Ku), named in honour of Igor Vasilevich Kurchatov, who helped develop understanding of the uranium chain reaction and the nuclear reactor.
 · Former name unnilquadium (Unq, '104'): temporary systematic name and symbol[61][22]
Dubnium (Db) 105 Дубна (Dubna) Russian toponym
Named for Dubna, Russia, location of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research (JINR) where it was discovered.
 · Former names:
hahnium (Ha) was proposed by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, in honour of Otto Hahn, for his pioneering work in radioactivity and radiochemistry, but the proposal was rejected.[22]
unnilpentium (Unp, '105'): temporary systematic name and symbol.[61]
Seaborgium (Sg) 106 Seaborg, Glenn Teodor Swedish via English Swedish surname eponym
Named in honour of Glenn T. Seaborg, who discovered the chemistry of the transuranium elements, shared in the discovery and isolation of ten elements, and developed and proposed the actinide series.
 · Former names:
unnilhexium (Unh, '106'): temporary systematic name and symbol.[61][22]
Bohrium (Bh) 107 Bohr, Niels eponym
Named in honour of Niels Bohr, who made fundamental contributions to the understanding of atomic structure and quantum mechanics.[22]
 · Former name unnilseptium (Uns, '107'): temporary systematic name and symbol.[61]
Hassium (Hs) 108 Hassia Latin "Hesse" toponym
From Latin Hassia, meaning Hessen, the German state where it was discovered at the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research, Darmstadt.[22]
 · Former names:
unniloctium (Uno, '108'): temporary systematic name and symbol.[61]
Meitnerium (Mt) 109 Meitner, Lise eponym
Named in honour of Lise Meitner, who shared discovery of nuclear fission.[22]
 · Former names:
unnilennium (Une, '109'): temporary systematic name and symbol.[61]
Darmstadtium (Ds) 110 Darmstadt German proper name toponym
Named for Darmstadt, where it was discovered at the GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research.
 · Former name eka-platinum,[21]
ununnilium (Uun, '110'): temporary systematic name and symbol.[61][62]
Roentgenium (Rg) 111 Röntgen, Wilhelm Conrad eponym
Named in honour of Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, who discovered and produced X-rays.
 · Former names:
unununium (Uuu, '111'): temporary systematic name and symbol.[61]
Copernicium (Cn) 112 Copernicus, Nicolaus Polish via Latin Polish surname, literally: "copper nickel" eponym
Named in honour of Nicolaus Copernicus.
 · Former names:
eka-mercury,[21] and temporarily systematic name and symbol ununbium (Uub, '112'): temporary systematic name and symbol.[61]
Nihonium (Nh) 113 日本 (Nihon) Japanese "Japan" toponym
Named after Nihon ("Japan"), where the element was discovered at the Riken research institute.
 · Former names:
ununtrium (Uut, '113'): temporary systematic name and symbol.[61]
Flerovium (Fl) 114 Flerov, Georgy Russian Russian surname eponym
Named in honour of Georgy Flyorov, who was at the forefront of Soviet nuclear physics and founder of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research in Dubna, Russia, where the element was discovered.
 · Former name ununquadium (Uuq, '114'): temporary systematic name and symbol.[61]
Moscovium (Mc) 115 Moscovia Latin "Moscow" toponym
Named after Moscow Oblast, where the element was discovered.
 · Former names:
ununpentium (Uup, '115'): temporary systematic name and symbol.[61]
Livermorium (Lv) 116 Livermore, Lawrence English toponym
Named in honour of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which collaborated in the discovery and is in Livermore, California, in turn named after the rancher Robert Livermore.
 · Former name ununhexium (Uuh, '116'): temporary systematic name and symbol.[61]
Tennessine (Ts) 117 Tennessee Cherokee via English toponym
Named after the US state of Tennessee, itself named after the Cherokee village of ᏔᎾᏏ (tanasi), where important work for one of the steps to synthesise the element was done in the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
 · Former names:
ununseptium (Uus, '117'): temporary systematic name and symbol.[61]
Oganesson (Og) 118 Oganessian, Yuri (Оганесян) Russian Armenian surname eponym
Named after Yuri Oganessian, a great contributor to the field of synthesizing superheavy elements.
 · Former names:
ununoctium (Uuo, '118'): temporary systematic name and symbol.[61]

See also


  1. ^ a b Kevin A. Boudreaux. "Derivations of the Names and Symbols of the Elements". Angelo State University.
  2. ^ Harper, Douglas. "hydrogen". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Some elements (particularly ancient elements) were associated with Greek (or Roman or other) gods or people, in Greek mythology (or other mythology), and with planets (or other objects in the Solar System), such as Mercury (mythology)Mercury (planet)Mercury (element), etc.
    Also, astrological symbols for the planets were often used as symbols for the ancient elements.
  4. ^ At one time, beryllium was called glucinium, which is from Greek γλυκύς (glykys), meaning "sweet", due to the sweet taste of its salts.
  5. ^ Harper, Douglas. "beryl". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  6. ^ Harper, Douglas. "carbon". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  7. ^ Harper, Douglas. "nitrogen". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  8. ^ Nitrogen, The pure gas is inert enough that Antoine Lavoisier referred to it as azote, meaning "without life", since animals placed in it died of asphyxiation. This term became the French for nitrogen and later spread to many other languages.
  9. ^ Harper, Douglas. "oxygen". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  10. ^ In medieval Europe, sodanum is the Latin name of "a compound of sodium".
  11. ^ Vygus, Mark (April 2012). Vygus dictionary (PDF). p. 1546.
  12. ^ Harper, Douglas. "soda". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  13. ^ Harper, Douglas. "aluminum". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  14. ^ Harper, Douglas. "phosphorus". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  15. ^ Mallory & Adams (2006) The Oxford introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European world, Oxford University Press
  16. ^ Harper, Douglas. "sulfur". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  17. ^ Harper, Douglas. "chlorine". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  18. ^ Harper, Douglas. "potassium". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  19. ^ a b Harper, Douglas. "potash". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  20. ^ Harper, Douglas. "calcium". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  21. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o eka-... named elements: Mendeleev predicted and described properties of then-undiscovered elements, based on the then empty locations in his 1871 Periodic table of elements. The predictions proved to be correct with the discovery of scandium, gallium, technetium and germanium. He named those unknown, unnamed elements "eka-...", for example "eka-boron", the prefix meaning one more (i.e., one more row below boron in the periodic table). Ultimately, eka-boron was discovered, named "aluminium" and indeed is located below boron.
    The elements he predicted, eka-boron, eka-aluminium, eka-manganese, and eka-silicon proved to be good predictors of scandium, gallium, technetium and germanium, respectively.
    The prefix eka-, from the Sanskrit, means "one" (one place down from a known element in the table), and is sometimes used in discussions about any more undiscovered element. For example, darmstadtium is sometimes referred to as eka-platinum.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l see List of chemical elements naming controversies
  23. ^ Harper, Douglas. "chromium". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  24. ^ Harper, Douglas. "iron". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  25. ^ a b Harper, Douglas. "nickel". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  26. ^ Harper, Douglas. "copper". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  27. ^ Weeks, Mary Elvira (1932). "The discovery of the elements. XIII. Some elements predicted by Mendeleeff". Journal of Chemical Education. 9 (9): 1605–1619. Bibcode:1932JChEd...9.1605W. doi:10.1021/ed009p1605.
  28. ^ a b Harper, Douglas. "arsenic". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  29. ^ Harper, Douglas. "bromine". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  30. ^ Gemoll, W.; Vretska, K. (1997). Griechisch-Deutsches Schul- und Handwörterbuch [Greek–German dictionary] (9th ed.). öbvhpt. ISBN 3-209-00108-1.
  31. ^ a b c d In a mine near Ytterby, Sweden, many elements were discovered. Four elements are named after Ytterby: § yttrium (Y), § terbium (Tb), § erbium (Er), § ytterbium (Yb).
  32. ^ Pearse, Roger (2002-09-16). "Syriac Literature". Retrieved 2008-02-11.
  33. ^ Harper, Douglas. "zircon". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  34. ^ Magocsi, Paul Robert (1996-01-01). A History of Ukraine. University of Toronto Press. ISBN 9780802078209.
  35. ^ Harper, Douglas. "Pallas". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  36. ^ Harper, Douglas. "palladium". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  37. ^ Harper, Douglas. "silver". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  38. ^ Tin – The American Heritage Dictionary tin
  39. ^ Vygus, Mark (April 2012). Vygus dictionary (PDF). p. 1409.
  40. ^ Antimony, Sb
    • Littré suggests that the first form is derived from *stimmida, a hypothetical alternative accusative of stimmi (the canonical accusative of the noun is the same as the nominative: stimmi). The Arabic word for the substance, as "mark" or "the cosmetic", can appear as تحميض، ثمود، وثمود، وثمود (ithmid, athmoud, othmod or uthmod)
    • LSJ, s.v., vocalisation, spelling, and declension vary; Endlich; Celsus, 6.6.6 ff; Pliny Natural History 33.33; Lewis and Short: Latin Dictionary. OED, s. antimony.
    • stimmi is used by the Attic tragic poets of the 5th century BC. Later Greeks also used στίβι (stibi), which is written in Latin by Celsus and Pliny in the first century AD. Pliny also names stimi [sic], larbaris, and alabaster (Greek: ἀλάβαστρον), "very common platyophthalmos (πλατυόφθαλμος)", "wide-eye" in Greek (the description refers to the effects of the cosmetic). In Egyptian hieroglyphics, mśdmt; the vowels are uncertain, but in Coptic and according to an Arabic tradition, it is pronounced mesdemet (Albright; Sarton, quotes Meyerhof, the translator). In Arabic, the word for powdered stibnite is kuhl.[1]
  41. ^ "Antimony | Define Antimony at". Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  42. ^ Harper, Douglas. "iodine". Online Etymology Dictionary.
  43. ^ Harper, Douglas. "cesium". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  44. ^ Harper, Douglas. "barium". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  45. ^ Mike Campbell. "Meaning, Origin and History of the Name Ceres". Behind the Name. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  46. ^ Harper, Douglas. "cereal". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  47. ^ a b didymium was originally mistaken for an element, later it was discovered that it separates into elements #Pr and #Nd. The metals have different-coloured salts, which helps distinguish them.
  48. ^ The ancient Greek derivation of Prometheus from the Greek πρό pro ("before") + μανθάνω manthano ("learn"), thus "forethought", which engendered a contrasting brother Epimetheus ("afterthought"), was a folk etymology; it is succinctly expressed in Servius' commentary on Virgil, Eclogue 6.42: "Prometheus vir prudentissimus fuit, unde etiam Prometheus dictus est ἀπὸ τής πρόμηθείας, id est a providentia." Modern scientific linguistics suggests that the name derived from the Proto-Indo-European root that also produces the Vedic pra math, "to steal", hence pramathyu-s, "thief", cognate with "Prometheus", the thief of fire. The Vedic myth of fire's theft by Mātariśvan is an analog to the Greek account. Pramantha was the tool used to create fire. See: Fortson, Benjamin W. (2004). Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction. Blackwell Publishing, p. 27.; Williamson (2004), The Longing for Myth in Germany, 214–15; Dougherty, Carol (2006). Prometheus p. 4.
  49. ^ Pyykkö, Pekka (2015-07-23). "Magically magnetic gadolinium". Nature Chemistry. 7 (8): 680. Bibcode:2015NatCh...7..680P. doi:10.1038/nchem.2287. PMID 26201746.
  50. ^ "Thule in Wordnik, accessed March 9, 2010". Archived from the original on October 4, 2013. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  51. ^ Harper, Douglas. "Tantalus". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  52. ^ Woods, Ian (2004). The Elements: Platinum. The Elements. Benchmark Books. ISBN 978-0-7614-1550-3.
  53. ^ Harper, Douglas. "platinum". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  54. ^ Gold in Sanskrit is ज्वल jval; in Greek, χρυσός (khrusos); in Chinese, (jīn).[relevance?]
  55. ^ Mercury – The Indian alchemy called Rassayana, which means "the way of mercury".
  56. ^ Lead was mentioned in the Book of Exodus. Alchemists believed that lead was the oldest metal and associated the element with Saturn.
  57. ^ Harper, Douglas. "radon". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  58. ^ Protactinium; In 1913, Kasimir Fajans and Otto H. Göhring identified and named element 91 brevium, from Latin brevis, which means "brief, short"; protactinium has a short half-life. The name was changed to "protoactinium" in 1918 and shortened to protactinium in 1949.
  59. ^ Harper, Douglas. "Pluto". Online Etymology Dictionary. Retrieved 2011-01-02.
  60. ^ Mendelevium, "Mendeleyev" commonly spelt as Mendeleev, Mendeléef, or Mendelejeff, and first name sometimes spelt as Dmitry or Dmitriy
  61. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Formal IUPAC Systematic element name. Temporary name and symbol, denoting the element number, available before a formal name is given.
  62. ^ Some humorous scientists suggested the name policium, because 110 is the emergency telephone number for the German police.

Further reading