Old English seolfor, Mercian sylfur "silver; money," from Proto-Germanic *silubra- (source also of Old Saxon silvbar, Old Frisian selover, Old Norse silfr, Middle Dutch silver, Dutch zilver, Old High German silabar, German silber "silver; money," Gothic silubr "silver"), from a common Germanic/Balto-Slavic word (source also of Old Church Slavonic s(u)rebo, Russian serebro, Polish srebro, Lithuanian sidabras "silver") of uncertain relationship and origin. According to Klein's sources, possibly from a language of Asia Minor, perhaps from Akkadian sarpu "silver," literally "refined silver," related to sarapu "to refine, smelt."
As an adjective from late Old English (also silvern). As a color name from late 15c. Of voices, words, etc., from 1520s in reference to the metal's pleasing resonance; silver-tongued is from 1590s. The silver age (1560s) was a phrase used by Greek and Roman poets. Chemical abbreviation Ag is from Latin argentum "silver," from the usual PIE word for the metal (see argent), which is missing in Germanic.
"to cover or plate with silver," mid-15c., from silver (n.). Meaning "to tinge with gray" (of hair) is from c. 1600. Related: Silvered; silvering.
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