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March 24, 2017

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which elements have symbols based on their latin names? Why?


Gold = Aurum
Lead = Plumbum
Iron = Ferrum
Tin = Stannum
Copper = Cuprum
Mercury = Hydragyrum
Potassium = Kalium
Sodium = Natrium
Tungsten = Wolfram
Silver = Argentum
Antimony = Stibium

Could someone please explain to me Why. I am not so sure.

  • Science-Elements - ,

    Latin Name for Gold is Aurum and thus the symbol is Au, not Go as you might expect.
    Similarly, Lead in Latin is Plumbum so the Symbol is Pb. Copper is Cu, Potassim K.
    Other symbols were named in other ways.
    Oxygen is O, Hydrogen H, Sulfur S.
    Look at your Periodic Table.

  • Science-Elements - ,

    Thanks, but when it asks Why-- does that mean Why do you think, or Why as in why is that so? I don't know how to answer that part.

  • Science-Elements - ,

    Those are tough questions-to know what is in the mind of the teacher that writes them.
    Most appear to be metals Tin, Copper, Gold...
    Perhaps the scientists decided to use Latin names for these.
    They couln't have 2 C elements (Carbon and Copper) and Co is already Cobalt
    Similarly S is Sulfur so they couldn't use it for Sodium or Silver
    Good-luck on this one!

  • Science-Elements - ,

    Thank you so much Kathleen:-)

  • Science-Elements - ,

    Your text ought to say why, but because I am so kind an generous...

    The elements which were discovered in antiquity (look that word up) were named in Latin because Latin was the language of all educated persons in those days. And, most of these metals were known in Roman times.

  • Science-Elements - ,

    Sure you do. If we discovered gold today it might be Go as a symbol as Kathleen has suggested. But since it was known in antiquity, it was called by the Latin name aurum. Obviously, Au for the symbol came from that. So the symbols came from the name. It just happens that gold was called aurum, lead was called plumbum, etc. Symbols contain EITHER 1 or 2 letters (no more than 2 and of course no less than 1). USUALLY, the first letter is used but you see quickly that if we use C for carbon, what do we use for chromium, cobalt, copper, cadmium, etc and you get the picture---so we use 2 in those cases and cobalt become Co, cadmium becomes Cd, chromium becomes Cr, and so on into the night, with carbon retaining the C. Since lead was named plumbum (remember when lead was discovered it was done by someone across the pond in Europe and not by an American, Canadian, or South American. When it can time to use symbols, Pb was the choice. P is phosphorus. The Latin names for mercury and silver are tongue twisters but they were named that by general usage in Europe and symbols come from the name used in those good old days. CURRENT standards call for all metals to have the ending -ium (like chromium, magnesium, cadmium, etc) but, in a bow to history, no one suggested we change the name of molybdenum, gold, tin, lead, arsenic, zinc to goldinium, leadenium, arsenicenium, etc. If you look at the periodic table, you will find many many elements ending in -ium which will tell you something about when the element was discovered (although you can't pinpoint this with any precision). I hope this helps you understand.

  • Science-Elements - ,

    Thank you bobpursley and thank you DrBob222--yes that made me understand a whole lot better, thanks:-)

  • Science-Elements - ,

    not good enough

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