The Etymological Origins of Periodic Table Elements

Linguist Rob Watts of RobWords looks at the etymological origins of the more popular elements from the periodic table, noting how the names originate from various sources, including different languages, geographical locations, mythology, and unique characteristics.

Where do our words for the chemical elements come from? The answers are certain to surprise you

Included in this list are Hydrogen, Oxygen, Gold, Silver, and Mercury. While he was at it, he also looked at the difference between “aluminum” and “aluminium”, determining that both are correct.

Now, I’ve always called  it Aluminium, but it also gets called Aluminum. You want me to tell you which is right, don’t you?  If only it were so… elementary.  So Aluminium is recorded first  as the name for the element you   get from alumina. That was in 1811. But  then Aluminum is seen being used in 1812. So neither one of them is the long-established  term, and the other an abominable   mispronunciation. They’re both good. 

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails. Lori can be found posting on Threads and sharing photos on Instagram.