"rare white metal, harder than gold, softer than copper, valued for its luster and malleability," Middle English silver, from Old English seolfor, Mercian sylfur, Northumbrian sulfer, "the metal silver; silver coin, money," from Proto-Germanic *silabur- (source also of Old Saxon silvbar, Old Frisian selover, Old Norse silfr, Middle Dutch silver, Dutch zilver, Old High German silabar, German silber "silver; money," Gothic silubr "silver"), which is of uncertain origin.
It seems to be Germanic/Balto-Slavic (source also of Old Church Slavonic s(u)rebo, Russian serebro, Polish srebro, Lithuanian sidabras "silver"), but has long been presumed to be a Wanderwort (a loan-word that has spread among several languages) displacing the usual IE word for the metal (represented by Latin argentum; see argent).
Basque zilharr "silver" usually is considered a loan-word from West Germanic, but the Germanic form lately has been compared to old Celtic words used in Spain, and because the rest of Celtic uses the argentum word, this suggests the borrowing might be in the other direction, and Germanic word might be from "a Hispano-Celtic innovation due to an Iberian donor language. In this connection, the old comparison of Basque zilharr is attractive" [Boutkan].
From c. 1300 as "articles, plates, etc. of silver, silverware." As a color name from late 15c. Chemical abbreviation Ag is from Latin argentum "silver."
mid-14c., silveren, "cover or plate with silver," from silver (n.). Old English had beseolfrian. The meaning "tinge with gray" (of hair) is from c. 1600. Related: Silvered; silvering.
"made of silver," late Old English seolfor, from the noun (see silver (n.), also compare silvern). Of voices, words, etc., from 1520s in reference to the metal's pleasing resonance; silver-tongued is from 1590s. Of hair by 1580s.
The silver age (1560s) was a phrase used by Greek and Roman poets. A silver fox is a North American variety of the common red fox with silver-tipped black hair. A silver spoon in the literal sense is attested from late 15c.; see spoon (n.). The old figurative expression fish with a silver hook is attested from c. 1600.
The Silver Hook, and the Golden Bait, catch all the Fish upon dry Land. [Defoe, "The Union-Proverb," 1708]
1703, in reference to various types of silver-colored fish (similar formation in German Silberfisch, Dutch zilvervisch); from silver (adj.) + fish (n.). In reference to a type of household insect damaging to books, wallpaper, etc. (also known as silvertail, fishtail, furniture-bug, etc.), it is attested from 1855.
common popular designation of metallic mercury, Middle English quik-silver, from late Old English cwicseolfor, literally "living silver," so called for its mobility, translating Latin argentum vivum (source also of Italian argento vivo), "living silver;" so called from its liquid mobility. See quick (adj.) + silver (n.). Similar formation in Dutch kwikzilver, Old High German quecsilbar, German quecksilber, French vif-argent, Italian argenta viva.
early 15c., "silver, silver coin," from Old French argent "silver, silver money; quicksilver" (11c.), from Latin argentum "silver, silver work, silver money," from PIE *arg-ent-, suffixed form of root *arg- "to shine; white," thus "silver" as "the shining or white metal." It was earlier in English in the sense of "quicksilver, the metal mercury" (c. 1300); the adjective sense "silver-colored" is from late 15c.