Mon, 10/25/2021 - 13:18

Both words Aluminium and Aluminum come from ALUMINA referring to the metallic element. “Um” is preferred in the USA and “ium” is common for other English-speaking countries. This metal is one of the most abundant on our planet, that’s why its name was changing by the years. An interesting fact is that this metal exists in compounds found in almost all rocks as well as in plants and animals.

The origin of the word alumina is from 1790 and initially, the British chemist Humphry Davy started its name history. Primarily Davy named the metal with the Latin word alumina, but for more sound, he put “ium” (alumium) in the end. In the beginning, alumina was referred to oxide and after a few years later he started to use it for the name of the element.

Of course, the story continues. In 1810 one of Davy’s lectures was published and there he used not alumium but alumine. However, by that time there was another scientist who had coined aluminium with the nice “ium” that was so familiar in potassium and sodium. In 1828 Noah Webster defined aluminum as “the name given to the supposed metallic base of alumina” in his “An American Dictionary of the English Language”. In his “Second International Dictionary,” both aluminum and aluminium were noted and this note was included:

“The word was first proposed by Davy in the formed aluminum, and changed by him to aluminum, but was finally made aluminium to conform to the analogy of sodium, potassium, etc. The form aluminum is in common use in mining, manufacturing, and the trade in the USA; the form aluminium is used in Great Britain and generally by chemists in the United States.”

But in his second edition of the Dictionary from 1934 the terminology was confirmed. Aluminium in Britain, and aluminum in the USA:

“The form aluminum is in common use in the United States; the form aluminium is used in Great Britain and by some chemists in the United States.”

The American Chemical Society (ACS) accepted aluminum in 1925, but in 1990 The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) accepted aluminium as the international standard.

Nowadays the situation is the following: English speakers use aluminum in North America and aluminium everywhere else. 

Soumaya-Museum-Ciudad-de-Mexico-Aluminium_ Aluminum_etem