Where does the word “Ambergris” come from and What does Ambergris mean in French?

As any Frenchman knows, “ambergris” is a misspelling of ambre gris, meaning “gray amber,” and is used to distinguish the soft, animal secretion of the sperm whale, gray in color, from the hard, fossilized resin, ambre jaune, “yellow amber.”

But at one time, because both of these were found along coasts of the sea, the yellow amber, that which we now call “amber,” was thought to be hardened ambergris of different color.

Amber itself was known in ancient Greece, but was called elektron.

Through this name and the properties exhibited by the material when rubbed were derived our terms “electric,” “electricity,” etc.

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.

Leave a Comment