Elementymology & Elements Multidict
Bismut – Wismut – Bismuth – Bismuto – ビスマス – Висмут – 鉍
Bismuth, Vismuth Danish
Bismut Frisian (West)
Bismut Romanian - Moldovan
SlavicБисмут [Bismut] Bulgarian
Вісмут [vismut] Belarusian
Висмут [Vismut] Macedonian
Висмут [Vismut] Russian
Бизмут [Bizmut] Serbian
Вісмут [vismut] Ukrainian
Biosmat Gaelic (Irish)
Biosmat Gaelic (Scottish)
Bismut Gaelic (Manx)
Other Indo-EuropeanΒισμουθιο [vismouthio] Greek
Բիսմութ [bismut'] Armenian
Висмут [vismut] Ossetian
Висмут [Vismut] Tajik
Indo-Iranian/Indo-Aryanবিসমাথ [bisamātha] Bengali
بیسموت [bysmwt] Persian
બિસ્મથનો [bismathano] Gujarati
बिस्मथ [bismatha] Hindi
Висмут [Vismut] Komi
Висмут [Vismut] Mari
Висмут [vismut] Moksha
Висмут [Vismut] Chuvash
Висмут [vismût] Kazakh
Висмут [Vismut] Kyrgyz
Висмут [bismut] Mongolian
ۋىسمۇت [wismut] Uyghur
Other (Europe)Bismutoa Basque
ბისმუტი [bismuti] Georgian
Afro-Asiaticبزموث [bizmūt] Arabic
ביסמות [bismuth] Hebrew
Biżmut, ²Bismut Maltese
Sino-TibetanPit (鉍) Hakka
ビスマス [bisumusu] Japanese
비스무트 [biseumuteu] Korean
บิสมัท [bismath] Thai
Bitmut, Bismut Vietnamese
鉍 [bi4 / bei3] Chinese
Other Asiaticബിസ്മത് [bismat] Malayalam
பிஸ்மத் [pismat] Tamil
South-AmericaWismutu, ²Bismutu Quechua
CreoleBismuti Sranan Tongo
New namesBismuton Atomic Elements
History & Etymology
Bismuth was probably unknown to the ancients. The first time it is mentioned is in the 15th century. In 1450 Basileus Valentinus (1565-1624) referred to it by the name wismut, and characterized it as a metal; some years later Paracelsus termed it wissmat, and, in allusion to its brittle nature, affirmed it to be a "bastard" or "half-metal". The first clear description of Bismuth as a separate metal is from Georgius Agricola (1494-1555), De natura fossilium Libri X (1546) (note). Agricola described it as an "ashgrey lead", unknown to the ancient Greeks and Latins. It is a separate metal, different from lead and tin, but similar to them. It is brittle and harder than tin and lead. The density is between tin and lead. The luster of a polished surface is between that of tin and lead. Bismuth is mined at Schneeberg, Erzgebirge, Sachsen, Germany. Agricola used the form wissmuth, latinized to bisemutum, and also the term plumbum cineareum.
There exist also a document from 1477 on a Bismuth mine at Schneeberg, this means that the name was already known and was apparently not uncommon in this area. Alchemy held that one metal could be transformed to another. Miners believed there were three types of Lead: Ordinary, Tin, and Bismuth. Silver was often found in ore below Bismuth. So they believed that Bismuth had progressed farthest but not completed its transmutation to Silver. Striking a vein of Bismuth, miners would say sadly, "Alas, we have come too soon."
Edmund von Lippmann, in his book on the history of Bismuth (note), encountered in the literature from the 15th to the 17th century 21 names for the metal. In Cadet's Dictionnaire de Chimie of 1803 (note) Bismuth and some of its compounds are described in detail and given many synonym names: Demogorgon, Glaure, Nimphe, Étain de glace, and Étain gris (gray tin).
In early times Bismuth was confused with Antimony, Tin and Lead. Only in the middle of the 18th century, through the research of Claude-François Geoffroy dit Geoffroy cadet (1729-1753) (note), who described his observations in appeared in the Mémoires de l’académie française for 1753, His early death prevented further research on Bismuth. Johann Heinrich Pott (1692—1777), published in his Exercitationes chemicae de Wismutho (1769), and Torbern Olof Bergman (1735-1784) reinvestigated Bismuth's properties and determined its reactions. Bergman's account was published in his Opuscula. By the work of Bergman, Bismuth was definitely recognized as a specific metal.
Von Lippmann explains the name as derived from the German Weisse Masse = white material, which later altered to Wismuth and Bisemutum.
Often is the name Bismuth explained as a derivation from the German, from the saying that one the element "in der Wiese mute" (applied for mineral rights in the meadow). According to Thomas Witzke, the derivation of the element name from "in der Wiese muten" is unlikely. The term is difficult to translate. "Wiese" is meadow, and "muten" means an announcement to mine for special ores or metals. The owner of the mine must announce to the mining authorities the ores or metals that he wants to mine before starting his work.
Other suggestions for the origin of the word Bismuth are
Historical names of Bismuth isotopes
BISMUTH, a metalloid named by Artist "Tin Glass,"
Has pinkish-white colour, is of medium hardness,
Brittle, very fusible, and, in Air, oxides;
It melts at black heat, and vapours at white heat.