This list of chemical elements named after people includes elements named for people both directly and indirectly. Of the 118 elements, 19 are connected with the names of 20 people. 15 elements were named to honor 16 scientists (as curium honours both Marie and Pierre Curie). Four others have indirect connection to the names of non-scientists.[1] Only gadolinium and samarium occur in nature; the rest are man-made.


These 19 elements are connected to the names of people. Seaborg and Oganessian were the living persons honored by having elements named after them; Oganessian is the only one still alive. Names were proposed to honor Einstein and Fermi while they were still alive, but they had both died by the time those names became official.[2]

The four elements associated with non-scientists were not named in their honor but named for something else bearing their name: samarium for the mineral samarskite from which it was isolated; and americium, berkelium and livermorium after places named for them. The cities of Berkeley, California and Livermore, California are the locations of the University of California Radiation Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, respectively.

Element Individual(s)
Z Name Symbol Discovery Immediate namesake Name Specialty Born–Died Nationality
62 Samarium Sm 1879 the mineral samarskite Vasili Samarsky-Bykhovets Mining engineer 1803–1870 Russian
64 Gadolinium Gd 1886 the mineral gadolinite Johan Gadolin Scientist 1760–1852 Finnish
95 Americium Am 1944 the continents of the Americas Amerigo Vespucci Explorer 1454–1512 Italian
96 Curium Cm 1944 Marie Curie Scientist 1867–1934 PolishFrench
Pierre Curie Scientist 1859–1906 French
97 Berkelium Bk 1949 Berkeley, California and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory George Berkeley Philosopher 1685–1753 Irish
99 Einsteinium Es 1952 Albert Einstein Scientist 1879–1955 GermanSwiss
100 Fermium Fm 1952 Enrico Fermi Scientist 1901–1954 ItalianAmerican
101 Mendelevium Md 1955 Dmitri Mendeleev Scientist 1834–1907 Russian
102 Nobelium No 1966 Alfred Nobel Scientist 1833–1896 Swedish
103 Lawrencium Lr 1961 Ernest Lawrence Scientist 1901–1958 American
104 Rutherfordium Rf 1969 Ernest Rutherford Scientist 1871–1937 New Zealand
106 Seaborgium Sg 1974 Glenn T. Seaborg Scientist 1912–1999 American
107 Bohrium Bh 1981 Niels Bohr Scientist 1885–1962 Danish
109 Meitnerium Mt 1982 Lise Meitner Scientist 1878–1968 AustrianSwedish
111 Roentgenium Rg 1994 Wilhelm Röntgen Scientist 1845–1923 German
112 Copernicium Cn 1996 Nicolaus Copernicus Scientist 1473–1543 PolishGerman
114 Flerovium Fl 1998 the Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions at the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research Georgy Flyorov Scientist 1913–1990 Russian
116 Livermorium Lv 2000 Livermore, California, and Lawrence Livermore Lab[3] Robert Livermore Land owner 1799–1858 EnglishMexican
118 Oganesson Og 2002 Yuri Oganessian Scientist 1933– Russian-Armenian

Other connections

Other element names connected with people (real or mythological) have been proposed but failed to gain official international recognition. The following such names received past significant use among scientists:

Names had also been suggested (but not used) to honour Henri Becquerel (becquerelium) and Paul Langevin (langevinium).[4][5] George Gamow, Lev Landau, and Vitalii Goldanski [ru] (who was alive at the time) were suggested for consideration for honoring with elements during the Transfermium Wars, but were not actually proposed.[2]

(See the article on element naming controversies and List of chemical elements named after places.)

Also, mythological entities have had a significant impact on the naming of elements. Helium, titanium, selenium, palladium, promethium, cerium, europium, mercury, thorium, uranium, neptunium and plutonium are all given names connected to mythological characters. With some, that connection is indirect:

Titanium is unique in that it refers to a group of deities rather than any particular individual. So Helios, Selene, Pallas, and Prometheus actually have two elements named in their honor.

And for elements given a name connected with a group, there is also xenon, named for the Greek word ξένον (xenon), neuter singular form of ξένος (xenos), meaning 'foreign(er)', 'strange(r)', or 'guest'.[6][7] Its discoverer William Ramsay intended this name to be an indication of the qualities of this element in analogy to the generic group of people.

Gallium was discovered by French scientist Paul-Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran, who named it in honor of France ("Gallia" in Latin); allegations were later made that he had also named it for himself, as "gallus" is Latin for "le coq", but he denied that this had been his intention.[8]

See also


  1. ^ Kevin A. Boudreaux. "Derivations of the Names and Symbols of the Elements". Angelo State University.
  2. ^ a b Hoffman, D.C; Ghiorso, A.; Seaborg, G.T. (2000). The Transuranium People: The Inside Story. Imperial College Press. pp. 187–189, 385. ISBN 978-1-86094-087-3.
  3. ^ There is an implied connection between livermorium and Ernest Lawrence since the element is named for Lawrence Livermore Laboratory.
  4. ^ "Chemistry : Periodic Table : darmstadtium : historical information". January 17, 2005. Archived from the original on January 17, 2005.
  5. ^ "115-ый элемент Унунпентиум может появиться в таблице Менделеева". (in Russian). 28 August 2013. Retrieved 23 September 2015. В свою очередь, российские физики предлагают свой вариант – ланжевений (Ln) в честь известного французского физика-теоретика прошлого столетия Ланжевена.
  6. ^ Anonymous (1904). Daniel Coit Gilman; Harry Thurston Peck; Frank Moore Colby (eds.). The New International Encyclopædia. Dodd, Mead and Company. p. 906.
  7. ^ Staff (1991). The Merriam-Webster New Book of Word Histories. Merriam-Webster, Inc. p. 513. ISBN 0-87779-603-3.
  8. ^ 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.