Etymology
Advertisement
sulfur (n.)
also sulphur, c. 1300, from Anglo-French sulfere, Old French soufre "sulfur, fire and brimstone, hellfire" (13c.), later also sulphur, from Late Latin sulfur, from Latin sulphur, probably from a root meaning "to burn." Ousted native brimstone and cognate Old English swefl, German schwefel, Swedish swafel, Dutch zwavel. The spelling with -ph- is standard in Britain, but its suggestion of a Greek origin is misleading.
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
sulphureous (adj.)
1550s, from Latin sulphureus "of sulfur," from sulphur (see sulfur).
Related entries & more 
sulfide (n.)
compound of sulfur with another element, 1831, from French sulfide; see sulfur + -ide.
Related entries & more 
sulfuric (adj.)
"of, pertaining to, or obtained from sulfur," also sulphuric, 1790, from French sulfurique; see sulfur + -ic. The spelling with -ph- is standard in Britain.
Related entries & more 
sulfite (n.)
salt of sulfurous acid, 1790, from sulfur + -ite (2).
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
sulphur (n.)
see sulfur. The form preferred in Britain; however, the spelling's suggestion of a Greek origin is misleading.
Related entries & more 
thiamin (n.)
also thiamine, alternative name for vitamin B1, 1937, coined by U.S. chemist Dr. Robert R. Williams (1886-1965) from thio-, indicating the presence of sulfur, from Greek theion "sulfur," + amine, indicating the amino group. Or the second element might be from vitamin.
Related entries & more 
sulfurous (adj.)
1520s, "containing or resembling sulfur, of the nature of brimstone," from Latin sulphurosus "full of sulfur," or a native formation from sulfur + -ous. Hence figurative use with suggestions of hellfire (c. 1600). Scientific chemistry sense is from 1790. The spelling with -ph- is standard in Britain. Earlier in the "brimstone-like" sense was sulphureose (early 15c.), and Old English had sweflen. Related: Sulfurously; sulphurously; sulfurousness.
Related entries & more 
sulfate (n.)
salt of sulfuric acid, 1790 (sulphat), from French sulphate (1787), from Modern Latin sulphatum acidum, from Latin sulpur, sulphur (see sulfur) + chemical ending -ate (3). The spelling with -ph- is standard in Britain.
Related entries & more 
brimstone (n.)

"sulfur in a solidified state," Old English brynstan, from brin- stem of brinnen "to burn" (from Proto-Germanic *brennan "to burn," from PIE root *gwher- "to heat, warm") + stan (see stone (n.)). In Middle English the first element also recorded as brem-, brom-, brum-, bren-, brin-, bron-, brun-, bern-, born-, burn-, burned-, and burnt-. Formerly "the mineral sulfur," now restricted to biblical usage.

The Lord reynede vpon Sodom and Gomor brenstoon and fier. [Wycliff's rendition (1382) of Genesis xix.24]

The Old Norse cognate compound brennusteinn meant "amber," as does German Bernstein.

Related entries & more