Cadmium, element 48, was discovered in 1817 by German chemist Friedrich Stromeyer in ores of zinc carbonate, also known as calamine. The name calamine is an alteration of the Latin cadmia, which is from the Greek καδμεία. So in naming the element, modern chemists drew on the classical name rather than the common form then in use.1
William Harrison’s 1577 Description of England is the first work known to use a form of the word in English, in a reference to lapis calaminaris, or calamine stone:
Those other which we call calaminares and speculares.2
Philemon Holland is the first to use both calamine and cadmia, in his 1601 translation of Pliny’s Historie of the World:
Brasse [...] Made [...] of the Chalamine stone, named otherwise Cadmia.3
Cadmium has the chemical symbol Cd.
Copyright 1997-2015, by David Wilton