Etymology
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Words related to -ium

helium (n.)

1868, coined from Greek hēlios "sun" (from PIE root *sawel- "the sun"), because the element was detected in the solar spectrum during the eclipse of Aug. 18, 1868, by English astronomer Sir Joseph N. Lockyer (1836-1920) and English chemist Sir Edward Frankland (1825-1899). It was not actually obtained until 1895; before then it was assumed to be an alkali metal, hence the ending in -ium.

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actinium (n.)

radioactive element discovered in 1899; see actino- "pertaining to rays" + chemical suffix -ium. It emits beta rays. The name was given earlier to a supposed new element (1881).

americium (n.)

artificial radioactive element, 1946, from America + metallic element ending -ium.

barium (n.)

1808, coined in Modern Latin by its discoverer, English chemist Sir Humphry Davy, because it was present in the mineral barytes "heavy spar" (barium sulphate), so named by Lavoisier from Greek barys "heavy" (from PIE root *gwere- (1) "heavy"). The metal is actually relatively light. With chemical ending -ium. Related: Baric.

beryllium (n.)

metallic element, 1863, so called because it figures in the composition of the pale green precious stone beryl and was identified in emerald (green beryl) in 1797 by French chemist Louis Nicolas Vauquelin and first isolated in 1828. With metallic element ending -ium. At first and until c. 1900 it was also sometimes called glucinum or glucinium.

cadmium (n.)

bluish-white metallic element, 1822, discovered 1817 by German scientist Friedrich Strohmeyer (1776-1835), coined in Modern Latin from cadmia, a word used by ancient naturalists for various earths and oxides (especially zinc carbonate), from Greek kadmeia (ge) "Cadmean (earth)," from Kadmos "Cadmus," legendary founder of Boeotian Thebes. With metallic element ending -ium. So called because the earth was first found in the vicinity of Thebes (Kadmeioi was an alternative name for "Thebans" since the time of Homer). Its sulphate furnishes a brilliant and permanent yellow color (cadmium-yellow, 1850) used by artists, etc.

calcium (n.)

metallic element, coined 1808 by English chemist Sir Humphry Davy, the first to succeed in isolating it, from Latin calx (genitive calcis) "limestone" (see chalk (n.)) + metallic element ending -ium. Related: Calcic.

cerium (n.)

metallic element, first isolated in pure form in 1875, named for ceria, the name of the earth from which it was taken, which was discovered in 1803 and named by Berzelius and Hissinger for Ceres, the minor planet, "whose discovery (in 1801) was then one of the most striking facts in physical science" [OED]. The planet was named for the Roman goddess Ceres, from a root meaning "to grow." With metallic element ending -ium. Related: Ceric.

cesium (n.)

also caesium, rare alkaline metal, 1861, coined by Bunsen and Kirchhoff in 1860 in Modern Latin (caesium), from Latin caesius "blue-gray" (especially of eyes), in reference to the two prominent blue lines in its spectrum, by which it was first identified. With metallic element ending -ium. The first metal discovered by the aid of a spectroscope.

curium (n.)

artificial highly radioactive metallic element, 1946, named by U.S. chemist Glenn T. Seaborg, who helped discover it in 1944, for the Curies (see curie). With metallic element ending -ium.