silver-white fluid metallic element, late 14c., from Medieval Latin mercurius, from Latin Mercurius (see Mercury). Prepared in ancient times from cinnabar, it was one of the seven metals (bodies terrestrial) known to the ancients, which were coupled in astrology and alchemy with the seven known heavenly bodies. This one probably was associated with the planet for its mobility. The others were Sun/gold, Moon/silver, Mars/iron, Saturn/lead, Jupiter/tin, Venus/copper.
The Greek name for it was hydrargyros "liquid silver," which gives the element its symbol, Hg. Compare quicksilver, which is its popular name. It has a freezing point of -39° C. The use of the word in reference to temperature or state of the atmosphere (by 1756) is from its use in thermometers and barometers.