Where does the word “nickel” come from and What does nickel mean in German?

German miners looking for copper were often baffled by an ore which, though it had an appearance of copper, yielded none whatsoever when it was tediously excavated, brought to the surface, and treated.

Time and time again they were fooled by this stuff.

They thought it must be that a demon or sprite had entered into ore that had been copper and had changed it into worthless stuff.

For that reason they called it kupfernickel, copper nickel, in which nickel was an old Teutonic name for demon. But in 1751 the Swedish mineralogist, Axel F. Cronstedt, succeeded in treating the ore and in isolating the metal from it, although in an impure form.

To name the metal thus obtained he went to the name given to the ore in disgust by German miners and called it nickel. (Compare COBALT.)

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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