What do the symbols on the Periodic Table mean? For example, Gold-Au, Silver-Ag, Lead-Pb, Potassium-K, Tin-Sn, Iron-Fe, and Mercury-Hg, where did these symbols come from?

Most of the elements' abbreviations are derived from Greek and Latin, or other ancient origins. For example, the Latin word for Gold is aurum; so the Periodic Table symbol Au comes from the first two letters of its Latin name. The symbol Hg represents Mercury on the table and comes from the Latin word hydragyrum, which translates from Latin as "liquid silver." The element Helium (symbol He) was named after Helios, the Greek God of the Sun, because the element was first recognized during a solar eclipse.

The science community typically considers Latin as the language of choice, but since many elements were discovered long before the idea of naming standardizations, not all abbreviations are derived from it. Impress your Science or Chemistry teacher by learning about the word origins, language translations and history of all the Periodic Table of Elements at the Multilingual and Name Origin Periodic Table.

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