chromium / chrome

The name of the metal chromium, element number 24, comes from the French chrome + the -ium ending. The French word is a modern borrowing from the Greek χρωμα, chroma or color, from the many colors of the compounds it forms. The name was coined by French chemist Louis Nicolas Vauquelin, who was the first to isolate the element in 1797.

The name quickly made its way into English, appearing first in technical journals. The earliest citation of chromium in the Oxford English Dictionary is 1807.1 Chrome is cited a bit earlier, in 1800.2

Chromium has the chemical symbol Cr, taken from among the first letters of its name.


1Oxford English Dictionary, chromium, 2nd Edition, 1989, Oxford University Press, accessed 8 September 2009, http://dictionary.oed.com/cgi/entry/50039275.

2Oxford English Dictionary, chrome, 2nd Edition, 1989, Oxford University Press, accessed 8 September 2009, http://dictionary.oed.com/cgi/entry/50039264

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