Where does the word “copper” come from and What does copper mean?

Because of its extensive occurrence throughout the globe in native form and the ease with which it can be hammered or drawn into a desired shape, copper, the metal was known and used by the human race in remote periods of time.

Alloyed with tin into bronze, it was the first metallic compound, so commonly employed before the days of recorded history that an extensive period of early civilization is known as the Bronze Age.

The Greeks called it chalkos; the Romans named it aes and used it from early times for the manufacture of coins. The Roman supply came chiefly from the island of Cyprus, in the eastern Mediterranean, though this island did not come under the control of Rome until 58 B.C.

To distinguish it from other sources, supplies of the metal from Cyprus became known as aes cyprium or, eventually, just cuprum, because the Greek letter y was equivalent to the Roman u.

We still retain this Latin form in scientific terminology, but in the speech of the common man in the Dark Age, of the early English people it became corrupted to co per by the time of Chaucer, finally assuming the present copper in the sixteenth century.

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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