Indium, element 49, was discovered in 1863 by German chemists Ferdinand Reich and Hieronymous Theodor Richter. They named the element after the color indigo, for two lines in the blue portion of the element’s emission spectrum.

Geologist Charles Lyell, in his 1864 inaugural address as president of the British Association, appears to be the first to use the element’s name in English:

A fourth metal named indium, from its indigo-coloured band, was detected by Professor Richter of Freiberg in Saxony in a zinc ore of the Hartz.1

Indium has the chemical symbol In.

1Oxford English Dictionary, indium, 2nd Edition, 1989, Oxford University Press, accessed 5 October 2009,

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