Chemical elements may be named from various sources: sometimes based on the person who discovered it, or the place it was discovered. Some have Latin or Greek roots deriving from something related to the element, for example some use to which it may have been put.

Known elements

All 118 discovered elements are confirmed and have a formal name and symbol, as decided by IUPAC. The last four names and symbols were added on November 28, 2016.[1][2] Currently there are no unconfirmed discoveries and all seven periods (rows) of the periodic table are completed.

Group 1 2   3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18
Hydrogen &
alkali metals
Alkaline earth metals Triels Tetrels Pnicto­gens Chal­co­gens Halo­gens Noble


Hydro­gen1H1.0080 He­lium2He4.0026
2 Lith­ium3Li6.94 Beryl­lium4Be9.0122 Boron5B10.81 Carbon6C12.011 Nitro­gen7N14.007 Oxy­gen8O15.999 Fluor­ine9F18.998 Neon10Ne20.180
3 So­dium11Na22.990 Magne­sium12Mg24.305 Alumin­ium13Al26.982 Sili­con14Si28.085 Phos­phorus15P30.974 Sulfur16S32.06 Chlor­ine17Cl35.45 Argon18Ar39.95
4 Potas­sium19K39.098 Cal­cium20Ca40.078 Scan­dium21Sc44.956 Tita­nium22Ti47.867 Vana­dium23V50.942 Chrom­ium24Cr51.996 Manga­nese25Mn54.938 Iron26Fe55.845 Cobalt27Co58.933 Nickel28Ni58.693 Copper29Cu63.546 Zinc30Zn65.38 Gallium31Ga69.723 Germa­nium32Ge72.630 Arsenic33As74.922 Sele­nium34Se78.971 Bromine35Br79.904 Kryp­ton36Kr83.798
5 Rubid­ium37Rb85.468 Stront­ium38Sr87.62 Yttrium39Y88.906 Zirco­nium40Zr91.224 Nio­bium41Nb92.906 Molyb­denum42Mo95.95 Tech­netium43Tc​[97] Ruthe­nium44Ru101.07 Rho­dium45Rh102.91 Pallad­ium46Pd106.42 Silver47Ag107.87 Cad­mium48Cd112.41 Indium49In114.82 Tin50Sn118.71 Anti­mony51Sb121.76 Tellur­ium52Te127.60 Iodine53I126.90 Xenon54Xe131.29
6 Cae­sium55Cs132.91 Ba­rium56Ba137.33 1 asterisk Lute­tium71Lu174.97 Haf­nium72Hf178.49 Tanta­lum73Ta180.95 Tung­sten74W183.84 Rhe­nium75Re186.21 Os­mium76Os190.23 Iridium77Ir192.22 Plat­inum78Pt195.08 Gold79Au196.97 Mer­cury80Hg200.59 Thallium81Tl204.38 Lead82Pb207.2 Bis­muth83Bi208.98 Polo­nium84Po​[209] Asta­tine85At​[210] Radon86Rn​[222]
7 Fran­cium87Fr​[223] Ra­dium88Ra​[226] 1 asterisk Lawren­cium103Lr​[266] Ruther­fordium104Rf​[267] Dub­nium105Db​[268] Sea­borgium106Sg​[269] Bohr­ium107Bh​[270] Has­sium108Hs​[269] Meit­nerium109Mt​[278] Darm­stadtium110Ds​[281] Roent­genium111Rg​[282] Coper­nicium112Cn​[285] Nihon­ium113Nh​[286] Flerov­ium114Fl​[289] Moscov­ium115Mc​[290] Liver­morium116Lv​[293] Tenness­ine117Ts​[294] Oga­nesson118Og​[294]
1 asterisk Lan­thanum57La138.91 Cerium58Ce140.12 Praseo­dymium59Pr140.91 Neo­dymium60Nd144.24 Prome­thium61Pm​[145] Sama­rium62Sm150.36 Europ­ium63Eu151.96 Gadolin­ium64Gd157.25 Ter­bium65Tb158.93 Dyspro­sium66Dy162.50 Hol­mium67Ho164.93 Erbium68Er167.26 Thulium69Tm168.93 Ytter­bium70Yb173.05  
1 asterisk Actin­ium89Ac​[227] Thor­ium90Th232.04 Protac­tinium91Pa231.04 Ura­nium92U238.03 Neptu­nium93Np​[237] Pluto­nium94Pu​[244] Ameri­cium95Am​[243] Curium96Cm​[247] Berkel­ium97Bk​[247] Califor­nium98Cf​[251] Einstei­nium99Es​[252] Fer­mium100Fm​[257] Mende­levium101Md​[258] Nobel­ium102No​[259]


Main article: List of chemical element name etymologies

Element names can refer to:


Main article: List of chemical elements named after people

Chemical elements are sometimes named after people, especially the synthetic elements discovered (created) after c. 1940. Very few are named after their discoverers, and only two have been named after living people: the element seaborgium was named after Glenn Seaborg, who was alive at the time of naming in 1997;[5] and in 2016 oganesson was named after Yuri Oganessian (still living as of March 2023).

Many of the transuranic elements are named after recipients of the Nobel Prize:

Other transuranic elements are named after scientists who did not receive the prize:[6][7]

The transuranic element flerovium was named after the Flerov Laboratory of Nuclear Reactions, which in turn was named after Georgy Flyorov. The IUPAC stated that the element was named after the laboratory, not Flyorov,[8] but Yuri Oganessian, who led the team at the laboratory that discovered the element, said that the intention of the naming was to honour Flyorov.[9]

The element samarium is named after Vasili Samarsky-Bykhovets,[10] and gadolinium is indirectly named (via the mineral gadolinite) after Johan Gadolin.[11][12]

Lecoq de Boisbaudran, who named the element gallium after his native land of France (from Latin Gallia meaning Gaul) denied that the element's naming was for a pun on his own name ("le coq" means "the rooster" in French, as does "gallus" in Latin).[13][14]

Places on earth

Main article: List of places used in the names of chemical elements

Some chemical elements are named after places on the planet earth. Elements which are named after currently existing countries and cities are as:

Several places in Scandinavia have elements named after them.

A number of other elements are named after classical words for various places.

Astronomical objects

The naming of elements from astronomical objects stems from the ancient association of metals with the various planets and their gods, as follows: mercury with Mercury; copper with Venus; iron with Mars (named for the Roman god of war); tin with Jupiter (named for the Roman king of the gods); and lead with Saturn (named for the ancient, slow god who was the father of Jupiter). The Sun and the Moon were associated with gold and silver, respectively.

A few other elements are directly named for astronomical bodies, including planets, dwarf planets, asteroids, the Earth, the Sun, and the Moon. Uranium, neptunium, plutonium, cerium, and palladium were named after Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Ceres, and Pallas, respectively.[32][33][34][35][36] The name selenium comes from the Greek word for the Moon (Σελήνη, Selene). Similarly, the name helium is derived from the Greek word for the Sun (Ἢλιος, Helios), as the first evidence for helium came in the form of distinctive emission lines from the Sun that were not explainable by any of the known elements in the 1870s.[37] Tellurium is named after the Latin word tellus, meaning "earth".


Many elements are named after the minerals in which they are found, e.g. calcium after Latin calx (lime), silicon is named after Latin silex (sand), sodium after soda and potassium after potash.[citation needed]

Temporary names

Main articles: Systematic element name and IUPAC/IUPAP Joint Working Party

In 1979, IUPAC published recommendations for their systematic element names to be used for yet unnamed or undiscovered elements[38] as a placeholder, until the discovery of the element is confirmed and a permanent name is decided on. The recommendations are mostly ignored among scientists, who simply call these elements by their atomic number, for example "element 119" (instead of "ununennium"), with the symbol of (119) or even simply 119.[39]

Since 2002, the IUPAC Inorganic Chemistry Division has been the official body responsible with assigning official names to new elements, with the IUPAC Council making the final decision.[40]


There are some standard suffixes for the element names. The suffix -ium, or less commonly -um, usually denotes a metallic element, or at least one that was thought to be metallic when it was discovered (helium is not a metal, and germanium, selenium, and tellurium are more typically termed metalloids or nonmetals). It arose from the Latin suffix of metals such as aurum (gold) and ferrum (iron). The suffix -on is used by some nonmetals (boron, carbon, silicon) as well as the noble gases from neon downward. For the noble gases, it arises from the Greek-adjective names of the stable noble gases (neon, argon, krypton, and xenon), with radon matching its source radium as well as adding the -on suffix. For the nonmetals, the -on was generalised to boron and silicon from the ending of "carbon". The -ine suffix is used only for the halogens, with chlorine being named first, and the others being named to match. The suffix -gen is used for three other nonmetals forming diatomic molecules (hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen). Suffixes were used more inconsistently before 1784, with tungsten (discovered 1783) the last element discovered whose English name lacks a standard suffix.[41]

The naming rules promulgated by IUPAC in 2002 declared that all newly discovered elements should have names ending in -ium, for linguistic consistency.[40] In 2016, this was amended so that elements in the halogen and noble gas groups would receive the traditional -ine and -on suffixes. This amendment was put into practice for tennessine (element 117) and oganesson (element 118); it was noted that the 2002 recommendations had apparently not anticipated that these elements would be reached as quickly as they were.[42]

Chemical symbol

Main article: Chemical symbol

Once an element has been named, a one-, or two-letter symbol must be ascribed to it so it can be easily referred to in such contexts as the periodic table. The first letter is always capitalised. While the symbol is often a contraction of the element's name, it may sometimes not match the element's name when the symbol is based on non-English words; examples include "Pb" for lead (from plumbum in Latin) or "W" for tungsten (from Wolfram in German). Elements which have only temporary systematic names are given temporary three-letter symbols (e.g. Uue for ununennium, the undiscovered element 119).

Naming controversies

Main article: List of chemical elements naming controversies

The naming of the synthetic elements dubnium and seaborgium generated a significant amount of controversy, referred to as the Transfermium Wars. The Americans wished to name element 105 hahnium, while the Russians preferred the name dubnium. The Americans also wished to name element 106 seaborgium. This naming dispute ran from the 1970s (when the elements were discovered) to the 1990s, when the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) created a tentative list of the element names for elements 104 to 109. The Americans, however, refused to agree with these names because seaborgium was not in the list. Thus, IUPAC reconsidered, and in 1996 named element 105 dubnium and element 106 seaborgium.[43]

In the past, elements would sometimes be renamed if the original discovery claim was successfully challenged: this occurred for elements 43 (technetium replacing masurium), 61 (promethium replacing illinium), and 85 (astatine replacing alabamine).[44] To avoid confusion, this is no longer done, e.g. element 102 is still called nobelium even though that discovery claim was refuted.[42]

Alternative forms of an element, names indicating molecular structure, and names of compounds

When a pure element, comprising only one type of atom, nevertheless exists in multiple forms (allotropes) with different structure and properties, they are generally given different names; for example graphite and diamond are both forms of the element carbon. Even for elements such as nitrogen having only one stable allotrope, a name such as dinitrogen may be used to indicate its molecular structure N2 as well as its elemental composition. The naming of chemical compounds comprising more than one element is a complex subject, discussed at length in the article on chemical nomenclature.

See also


  1. ^ "IUPAC announces the names of the elements 113, 115, 117, and 118". IUPAC. 2016-11-30. Retrieved 2018-09-21.
  2. ^ Öhrström, Lars; Reedijk, Jan (2016-12-28). "Names and symbols of the elements with atomic numbers 113, 115, 117 and 118 (IUPAC Recommendations 2016)". Pure and Applied Chemistry. 88 (12): 1225–1229. doi:10.1515/pac-2016-0501. eISSN 1365-3075. hdl:1887/47427. ISSN 0033-4545. S2CID 99429711.
  3. ^ Meija, Juris; et al. (2016). "Atomic weights of the elements 2013 (IUPAC Technical Report)". Pure and Applied Chemistry. 88 (3): 265–91. doi:10.1515/pac-2015-0305.
  4. ^ Prohaska, Thomas; Irrgeher, Johanna; Benefield, Jacqueline; Böhlke, John K.; Chesson, Lesley A.; Coplen, Tyler B.; Ding, Tiping; Dunn, Philip J. H.; Gröning, Manfred; Holden, Norman E.; Meijer, Harro A. J. (2022-05-04). "Standard atomic weights of the elements 2021 (IUPAC Technical Report)". Pure and Applied Chemistry. doi:10.1515/pac-2019-0603. ISSN 1365-3075.
  5. ^ Kean, 129
  6. ^ Gray, 230-231
  7. ^ Kean, 273
  8. ^ "Element 114 is Named Flerovium and Element 116 is Named Livermorium" (Press release). IUPAC. 30 May 2012. Archived from the original on 2 June 2012. Retrieved 24 January 2020.
  9. ^ Oganessian, Yu. Ts. (2015-10-10). "Гамбургский счет" [Hamburg reckoning] (Interview) (in Russian). Interviewed by Orlova, O. Public Television of Russia. Retrieved 2020-01-18.
  10. ^ Emsley, 464
  11. ^ Gray, 220-229
  12. ^ Emsley, 188
  13. ^ Kean, 55
  14. ^ 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.
  15. ^ Emsley, 412
  16. ^ Emsley, 185
  17. ^ Emsley, 197
  18. ^ Helmenstine, Anne (2020-08-15). "Elements Named After Places". Science Notes and Projects. Retrieved 2021-10-05. Beryllium – Named for the mineral beryl, which makes it indirectly named for Belur, India
  19. ^ Troberg, Michelle; Burnett, Heather (2017-08-24). "From Latin to Modern French: A punctuated shift". Oxford Scholarship Online: 104–124. doi:10.1093/oso/9780198747840.003.0008. ISBN 978-0198747840.
  20. ^ Helmenstine, Anne (2020-08-15). "Elements Named After Places". Science Notes and Projects. Retrieved 2021-10-05.
  21. ^ "C&EN: IT'S ELEMENTAL: THE PERIODIC TABLE - AMERICIUM". Retrieved 2021-10-05.
  22. ^ "Periodic Table of Elements: Los Alamos National Laboratory". Retrieved 2021-10-05.
  23. ^ Emsley, 157
  24. ^ a b c Kean, 62
  25. ^ Emsley, 299
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  34. ^ Emsley, 594
  35. ^ Emsley, 120
  36. ^ Emsley, 475
  37. ^ Gray, Theodore. The Elements: A Visual Exploration of Every Known Atom in the Universe.
  38. ^ Chatt, J. (1979). "Recommendations for the naming of elements of atomic numbers greater than 100". Pure and Applied Chemistry. 51 (2): 381–384. doi:10.1351/pac197951020381.
  39. ^ Haire, Richard G. (2006). "Transactinides and the future elements". In Morss; Edelstein, Norman M.; Fuger, Jean (eds.). The Chemistry of the Actinide and Transactinide Elements (3rd ed.). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer Science+Business Media. ISBN 1-4020-3555-1.
  40. ^ a b Koppenol, W. H. (2002). "Naming of new elements(IUPAC Recommendations 2002)" (PDF). Pure and Applied Chemistry. 74 (5): 787–791. doi:10.1351/pac200274050787. S2CID 95859397.
  41. ^ Thornton, Brett F.; Burdette, Shawn C. (31 March 2013). "The ends of elements". Nature Chemistry. 5 (5): 350–352. doi:10.1038/nchem.1610. PMID 23609073.
  42. ^ a b Koppenol, W. (2016). "How to name new chemical elements" (PDF). Pure and Applied Chemistry. DeGruyter. doi:10.1515/pac-2015-0802. hdl:10045/55935. S2CID 102245448.
  43. ^ Kean, 127-128
  44. ^ Paneth, F. A. (4 January 1947). "The Making of the Missing Chemical Elements". Nature. 159 (4027): 8–10. doi:10.1038/159008a0. S2CID 4089837.