How Did Aluminum Get its Name, What Does it Mean in Latin, and Why Is Aluminum Spelled Aluminium?

Aluminum is the most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust where it is principally found in combination with bauxite.

In 1808 when the English scientist Sir Humphry Davy (1778-1829) was figuring out how to isolate aluminum, he first called it alumium.

In 1812, though, he renamed the metal aluminum, which is how it is still known in North America.

That same year, however, the British decided the metal should be called aluminium to conform to the ending of most other related elements that end in ium such as sodium, potassium, et cetera.

In 1812, Britain’s Quarterly Review stated: “Aluminium, for so we shall take the liberty of writing the word, in preference to aluminum, which has a less classical sound.”

The name “aluminum” comes from its status as a base of alum, and “Alum” is Latin that literally means “bitter salt”.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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