Q:

Which elements on the periodic table have Latin names?

A:

Many elements on the periodic table have names derived from Latin, including aluminum, calcium, cesium, chlorine, fluorine, gallium, iridium, radium, rubidium and scandium. Other element names are derived from languages such as Greek, Arabic and Anglo-Saxon. Some elements have been named for the cities in which they were discovered or after scientists.

Scientists choose the names of elements based on a variety of factors, such as appearance, chemical properties, discovery location or person, or mythology. Examples of elements with Latin names and the reason behind the name choice include:

  • Aluminum's name is based on the Latin word "alumen," which means "alum."
  • Calcium's name is based on the Latin word for lime, "calx," which is the common name for calcium oxide.
  • Cesium is a bright sky blue color when heated and was given its name from the Latin "caesius," which means "sky blue."
  • Chlorine is a green-yellow gas, so was given the name after the Latin word "chloros," which means "greenish-yellow."
  • Fluorine's name is based on the Latin word "fluere," which means "to flow."
  • Gallium was named after the Latin name of France, Gallia.
  • Iridium has the ability to form differently colored compounds and therefore was named for the Latin word for rainbow, "Iris."
  • Radium has the ability to glow in the dark. Its name comes from the Latin word for ray, which is "radius."
  • Rubidium was named for its bright ruby red color. Its name comes from the Latin word "rubidius."
  • Scandium was named after the Latin word for Scandinavia, "Scandia."

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