metallic element, 1845, named by Russian chemist Karl Klauss, from a name proposed earlier (1828) in reference to a metal extracted from ores from the Ural Mountains of Russia (see Ruthenian). With metallic element ending -ium.
1850, of or pertaining to the Ukrainian people (earlier Ruthene, 1540s), from Medieval Latin Rutheni "the Little Russians," a derivative of Russi (see Russia). For consonant change, compare Medieval Latin Prut(h)eni, from Prussi "Prussians." Another word in the same sense was Russniak.
word-forming element in chemistry, used to coin element names, from Latin adjectival suffix -ium (neuter of -ius), which formed metal names in Latin (ferrum "iron," aurum "gold," etc.). In late 18c chemists began to pay attention to the naming of their substances with words that indicate their chemical properties. Berzelius in 1811 proposed forming all element names in Modern Latin. As the names of some recently discovered metallic elements already were in Latin form (uranium, chromium, borium, etc.), the pattern of naming metallic elements in -ium or -um was maintained (in cadmium, lithium, plutonium, etc.; helium is an anomaly).
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Definitions of ruthenium from WordNet
a rare polyvalent metallic element of the platinum group; it is found associated with platinum;