hafnium

Hafnium, element 72, was discovered by Danish physicist Dirk Coster and and Hungarian physicist Georg von Hevesy in 1922. The pair named the element after the city of Copenhagen. Hafnia is a modern Latin name for the city, formed from the Danish havn, or harbor. They wrote in the 20 January 1923 issue of Nature:

For the new element we propose the name Hafnium (Hafniae = Copenhagen).1

Hafnium has the chemical symbol Hf.

In 1911 French chemist Georges Urbain claimed to have discovered element 72, a claim that was later proven wrong. Urbain named his discovery after the Celts. Urbain wrote in the Journal of the Chemical Society in that year:

The name celtium is given to the corresponding element, and the symbol Ct assigned to it.2


1Oxford English Dictionary, hafnium, 2nd Edition, 1989, Oxford University Press, accessed 28 October 2009, http://dictionary.oed.com/cgi/entry/50101316.

2Oxford English Dictionary, celtium, 2nd Edition, 1989, Oxford University Press, accessed 28 October 2009, http://dictionary.oed.com/cgi/entry/50035436

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