This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Friday, 23 August 2019

Word To Use Today: aluminium/aluminum/alumium.

Aluminium/aluminum: but which?

The oldest?

The most up-to-date?

The one that's easiest to say?*

The one that's used by most people?

The one that's used where you live?

The chemical element aluminium/aluminium was first identified by Humphry Davy in 1808. And what did he call it? Alumium. So that's the oldest word for the stuff.

Four years later, no one knows why, he started calling it aluminum instead. 

Now, America latched onto the new and up-to-date name, but the British muttered and moaned about the word now not fitting the pattern of other elements, which tend to have -ium endings (like sodium and calcium) and in the end The Quarterly Review decided to add an extra letter i to the mix to give the word a more classical sound. So the British ended up with aluminium.

Neither of these words is easy to say, so on the whole I'd suggest returning to the original alumium, thus annoying everyone in the world equally.

Well, that has to be fair, doesn't it?

Word To Use Today: alumium/aluminium/aluminium. Alumine was the French word for aluminium oxide. This word comes from alum, bitter salt, from the Greek word aludoimos, bitter. So this word just might have the same roots as the word ale.

*Did you hear about the lady who asked if the tinker was copper-bottoming the pans he was mending? No, he said, I'm aluminiuming'em mum.

Try reading that out loud!

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