Project Nayuki


Unusual chemical symbols in English

Most chemical symbols look like a reasonable short form of the chemical element’s name in English – for example, C for carbon or Mg for magnesium. But there are 11 elements where the symbol doesn’t resemble the English name. Nine of these symbols use the Latin name, Hg uses the Greek name, and W uses the German name.

Z Symbol Foreign name English name
11NaNatriumSodium
19KKaliumPotassium
26FeFerrumIron
29CuCuprumCopper
47AgArgentumSilver
50SnStannumTin
51SbStibiumAntimony
74WWolframTungsten
79AuAurumGold
80HgHydrargyrumMercury
82PbPlumbumLead

Note: The English names of many other chemical elements are originally from Latin or Greek, but they do correspond with the chemical symbol. In other languages (e.g. French), there is a different set of elements where the symbol doesn’t correspond with the name in that language.

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