Gallium, element 31, may have gotten its name out of nationalistic pride, in a fit of egomania, or perhaps both. The element was discovered in 1875 by French chemist Paul Emile Lecoq de Boisbaudran. Lecoq claimed to have named it after France, or Gallia in Latin. Others claimed he named it after himself; gallus is rooster or cock in Latin. Lecoq specifically denied this claim, but it seems likely that he created the name with the dual meaning in mind.
The name quickly made its way into English, appearing in the paper The Family Herald in November of the year of its discovery:
The new metal, which is called gallium, was found by the spectroscope in zinc ores.1
Gallium has the chemical symbol Ga.
Copyright 1997-2013, by David Wilton