Element 79 is gold, one of the few elements whose name can be traced back to Old English. The metal, of course, has been known since antiquity. The word is recorded as early as c.725 in the Corpus Glossary, an early Latin-English dictionary:
Obrizum, smaete gold.
(Obrizum, refined gold).
And the Christ Church, Canterbury, Codex Aureus has this inscription from c.870:
Ic Aelfred aldormon ond Werburg min gefera begetan ðas bec æt haeðnum herge mid uncre claene feo, ðæt ðonne wæs mid clæne golde.
(I Alfred, alderman, and Werburg, my wife, obtained this book at a heathen temple with our pure money, that then was with pure gold.)1
The chemical symbol for gold is Au, from the Latin name for the metal, aurum.
Copyright 1997-2015, by David Wilton