Elementymology & Elements Multidict
Koper – Kupfer – Cuivre – Cobre – 銅 – Медь – 銅
Koper Frisian (West)
Kopar, ²Eir Icelandic
Kobber (Bokmål), Kopar (Nynorsk) Norwegian
Cupru Romanian - Moldovan
SlavicМед [Med] Bulgarian
Медзь [medz'] Belarusian
Бакар [Bakar] Macedonian
Медь [Med'] Russian
Бакар [Bakar] Serbian
Мідь [mid'] Ukrainian
Copar Gaelic (Irish)
Copar Gaelic (Scottish)
Cobbyr Gaelic (Manx)
Other Indo-EuropeanΧαλκος [chalkos] Greek
Պղինձ [pghindz] Armenian
Bakër, ²Bakri Albanian
Æрхуы [ærhuy] Ossetian
Мис [Mis] Tajik
Indo-Iranian/Indo-Aryanকপার [kapāra] Bengali
مس [ms] Persian
તાંબુ [tā'bu] Gujarati
ताम्र [tāmra] Hindi
Ыргӧн [Yrgön] Komi
Вӱргене [Vürgene] Mari
Серае, Сере [serae, sere] Moksha
Пăхăр [Păhăr] Chuvash
Мыс [mys] Kazakh
Жез [Žez] Kyrgyz
Зэс [zès] Mongolian
مىس [mis] Uyghur
Other (Europe)Kobrea Basque
სპილენძი [spilenżi] Georgian
Afro-Asiaticنحاس [nuHās] Arabic
נחושת [nahoshet] Hebrew
Ram, ²Ramm Maltese
銅 [dou] Japanese
구리 [guri] Korean
ทองแดง [thongdaeng] Thai
銅 [tong2 / tung4] Chinese
Other Asiaticചെമ്പ് [cemp] Malayalam
செப்பு [ceppu] Tamil
Kupri, ²Nahasi Swahili
North-AmericaChīchīltic tepoztli Nahuatl
CreoleKupru Sranan Tongo
New namesCopre Atomic Elements
History & Etymology
The discovery of Copper goes back to prehistoric times. Estimates of the earliest use of Copper vary, but 5000 BC is not unreasonable. Gold was probably the first metal to attract man's attention because of its sparkling yellow color, and Iron in the form of meteorites may have been used before Copper in some localities.
By about 3500 BC Copper was being obtained in the Middle East by charcoal reduction of its ores, and by 3000 BC the advantages of adding Tin in order to produce the harder bronze was appreciated in India, Mesopotamia and Greece. This established the "Bronze Age", and copper has continued to be one of manís most important metals.
The earliest recorded use of copperware in India has been around 3000 BC the findings at Mohenjo-daro
and Harappa, bear this out. The earliest documented observation of smelting of metals in India is by Greek historians in the 4th century BC.
In his biography of the charismatic teacher and miracle worker Apollonius of Tyana (first century AD), the Greek biographer Lucius Flavius Philostratus of Lemnos (c. 170-c. 245) gives a detail account of Apollonius's journey to India. In the town of Taxila, the capital of the kingdom Hinduš (or Indus-country) he mentions a shrine, in which were hung pictures on Copper tablets representing the feats of Alexander and Porus. In his own words, "The various figures were portrayed in a mosaic of Orichalcum, Silver, Gold, and oxidised Copper, but the weapons in Iron. The metals were so ingeniously worked into one another that the pictures which they formed were comparable to the productions of the most famous Greek artists."
In astrology alchemy the seven heavenly bodies known to the ancients were associated with seven metals also known in antiquity:
In ancient India Copper was also known as Tamara, Copper plate was called Tamara-Patra. Tamrakar meant a Copper smith and Tamara-pana meant a Copper coin.
The long history of Copper is reflected in the many different words for this metal. See the list of names to the left and in the overview of Copper in over 100 languages (click here).
We can identify at least seven diffent roots. The main European branches of the Indo-European language (except Slavic) use derivations from the Latin cuprum.
Derivations are used in almost all Italic languages (except Italian!), Celtic and Germanic languages, also Finnish.
Used in most of the Slavic and Altaic languages.
In Japanese, the character 銅 is pronounced as "dou". But another widely used pronunciation is "akagane" ("aka" = red, "kane" = money, metal, or gold).
A peculiar website from Lavian-American Andis Kaulins, Indo-European Afro-Asiatic Words for Metals - Copper Lead Tin Iron Bronze Gold Amber. I am not sure what to think of the value of his unorthodox information, but give it for what it is worth. Kaulins presents the following list for Copper:
Sumerian KAxUD.BAR (or) UDxKA.BAR (or) SI.BAR
And similar lists for Iron, Tin, and Lead. In examining all of these ancient terms for these metals,
Kaulins sees that all names have two basic roots as their origin:
COPPER, the Siamatic bond metal
'Tween integral parts of British Empire,
And Britain with all important nations,
Is a yellow tinged red colour'd metal,
Named Cuprum, moderately hard, ductile,
Very tenacious, and melts at white heat.