metallic element, 1807, coined by English chemist Sir Humphry Davy from Modern Latin potassa, Latinized form of potash (q.v.). Davy first isolated it from potash. The chemical symbol K is from Latin kalium "potash," from Arabic al-qaliy "the ashes, burnt ashes" (see alkali). Related: Potassic.
updated on September 23, 2020