80. Hydrargyrum (Mercury) - Elementymology & Elements Multidict

Elementymology & Elements Multidict

eXTReMe Tracker
This site comprises 120 pages of text and photos, one for each element, and several pages for access. – For captions or explanatory texts move your mouse over illustrations, links etc.

Hydrargyrum Mercury
Kwik, Kwikzilver† – Quecksilber – Mercure – Mercurio – 水銀 – Ртуть – 汞
Multilingual dictionary

Hydrargyrum Latin

— Germanic
Kwik Afrikaans
Kviksølv Danish
Quecksilber German
Mercury English
Kviksilvur Faroese
Kwik, Kwiksulver Frisian (West)
Kvikasilfur Icelandic
Quecksëlwer Luxembourgish
Kwik, Kwikzilver† Dutch
Kvikksølv Norwegian
Kvicksilver Swedish

— Italic
Mercurio Aragonese
Mercuru Aromanian
Mercuriu Asturian
Mercuri Catalan
Mercurio Spanish
Mercure French
Mercuri Friulian
Mercurio Galician
Mercurio Italian
Mercüri Lombard
Mercuri Occitan
Mercúrio Portuguese
Mercur Romanian - Moldovan

— Slavic
Живак [Živak] Bulgarian
Živa Bosnian
Ртуць [rtuc'] Belarusian
Rtuť Czech
Živa Croatian
Tãź Kashubian
Жива [Živa] Macedonian
Rtęć Polish
Ртуть [Rtut'] Russian
Ortut Slovak
Živo srebro Slovenian
Жива [Živa] Serbian
Ртуть [rtut'] Ukrainian

— Baltic
Gyvsidabris Lithuanian
Dzīvsudrabs Latvian
Gīvsėdabris Samogitian

— Celtic
Merkur Breton
Mercwri Welsh
Mearcair Gaelic (Irish)
Mearcair Gaelic (Scottish)
Mercur Gaelic (Manx)
Arhans Bew Cornish

— Other Indo-European
Ύδραργυρος [hydrargyros] Greek
Սնդիկ [sndik] Armenian
Mërkur[i], ²Zhiva Albanian

— Indo-Iranian/Iranian
Zîbeq Kurdish
Джынасу [džynasu] Ossetian
Симоб [Simob] Tajik

— Indo-Iranian/Indo-Aryan
পারদ (মৌল) [pārd (maula)] Bengali
جیوه [jywh] Persian
મર્ક્યુરી [markyurī] Gujarati
पारा [pārā] Hindi

Elavhõbe Estonian
Elohopea Finnish
Higany Hungarian
Тюрк [Tyurk] Komi
Майдар [Majdar] Mari
Аериксия [aeriksija] Moksha
Ellävhõpõ Võro

Civə Azerbaijani
Ртуть [Rtut'] Chuvash
Сынап [synap] Kazakh
Сымап [Symap] Kyrgyz
Мөнгөн ус [möngön us] Mongolian
Civa Turkish
مېركۇرىي [merkuriy] Uyghur
Simob Uzbek

Other (Europe)
Merkurioa Basque
ვერცხლის წყალი [verc'xlis cqali] Georgian

زئبق [zi'baq, zā'ūq] Arabic
כספית [kaspit] Hebrew
Merkurju Maltese

Kúng (汞) Hakka
水銀 [suigin] Japanese
수은 [su'eun] Korean
ปรอท [parot] Thai
Thuỷ ngân Vietnamese
[gong3 / hung3] Chinese

Merkuryo Cebuano
Raksa Indonesian
Konuoi Māori
Raksa, ²Merkuri Malay

Other Asiatic
രസം (മൂലകം) [rasam (mūlakam)] Malayalam
பாதரசம் (தனிமம்) [pātaracam (taṉimam)] Tamil

Mekuli Lingala
Mekhuri Sesotho
Hidrajiri, ²Zaibaki Swahili

Yōliamochitl Nahuatl

Yaku qullqi, ²Puriq qullqi Quechua

Kwiki Sranan Tongo

Hidrargo Esperanto

New names
Mercuron Atomic Elements
Solidium Dorseyville
memory peg

Dense liquid metal which has a high surface tension and will form a yellow/green/deep-gray oxide
melting point -39 °C; -38 °F
boiling point 357 °C; 674 °F
density 13.55 g/cc; 845.65 pounds/cubic foot
Known to the ancients
ΰδραργυρος (hydrargyros) = liquid silver (Greek)
Mercury after the planet Mercurius

History & Etymology

Mercury was already known in the Antiquity by Chinese and in India. We can also find Mercury in Egyptian graves that date of around 1500 BC.

Mercury is rather easily isolated from its ore, cinnabar (HgS), and was used in the Mediterranean world for extracting metals by amalgamation as early as 500 BC, possibly even earlier. Cinnabar was widely used in the ancient world as a pigment (vermilion). For over a thousand years, up to AD 1500, alchemists regarded the metal as a key to the transmutation of base metals to Gold and employed amalgams both for gilding and for producing imitation gold and silver.

Theophrastus of Eresos (371-286 BC), student of Aristotle and his successor as the head of the Lyceum in Athens, wrote the earliest surviving scientific book on minerals, De Lapidibus (On Stones). It was written most probably during 315-314 BC. He states that quicksilver quicksilver "... is made by pounding cinnabar with vinegar in a copper mortar with a copper pestle." (note). Dioscorides obtained it from the same mineral with the aid of iron, employing at the same time a primitive distillation apparatus.

The alchemists used various secret or mystical names, partly of Arab origin, Mercury was named Azoth (or Azoq), Zaibac, Zeida, Zaibar (Saibar), Ventus albus, Argentum vivum, etc.

In astrology alchemy the seven heavenly bodies known to the ancients were associated with seven metals also known in antiquity:

Sun (Sol)Gold (Aurum)
Mercury (Mercurius)Mercury (Hydrargyrum)
VenusCopper (Cuprum)
Moon (Luna)Silver (Argentum)
MarsIron (Ferrum)
JupiterTin (Stannum)
SaturnLead (Plumbum)

The long history of Mercury is reflected in the many different words for this metal. Many names are translations of "liquid silver", many other languages use the alchemistic name derived from the planet Mercurius, but there are several other roots as well. See the list of names to the left and in the overview of Mercury in over 100 languages (click here).

1. "Living (liquid) silver" translations in various languages.
Assuming that Mercury is a certain state of Silver, it was named "liquid silver" (in English Quicksilver), which was translated into several languages:
  • Greek: ΰδραργυρος [hydrargyros] from ΰδωρ [hydōr] = water, and αργυρος [argyros] = silver, was borrowed in Latin as hydrargyrum. The original Latin name was argentum vivum = living silver.
  • Germanic languages: the first part "quick, queck, kwik, etc." = lively (Indo-European "ğīv" = life), the second part is the native word for silver (the Dutch kwik is short for kwikzilver)
  • Baltic languages: gyvas = alive (Indo-European "ğīv" = life), and sidabras = silver.
  • Japanese: The two Chinese characters are 水 sui = water and 銀 gin = silver.

2. Rtuť
The origin of Russian and Slav name Rtuť is unclear. The word occurs already in Old-Russian of the 12th century. It is assumed that it is connected with the the Turkish-Arabic Utarid, = the planet Mercurius.
3. Zhivah (Indo-European "ğīv" = life)
Arabic, Turkish and Southern Slavic languages use derivations from the Persian zhivah or jîvah, from the Persian verbal root zî- meaning "to live" (cognate of Greek bios and Sanskrit jiva), thus also similar to "living silver,".
4. Hopea
Finnish (hopea) and Estonian (hõbe).
5. Kesef

6. Mercurius
Sign of Mercury, fleet messenger of the gods Mercury was considered the basis of metals, close to Gold and therefore it was called after the planet Mercurius, the planet nearest to the sun (= Gold). Others say that, because of its mobility, it is named after Mercurius, the messenger of the gods in Roman mythology and that the identification was later.

Chemistianity 1873
MERCURY, our weather indicator metal,
(Quicksilver), in Latin, Hydrargyrum,
Has a blue silver-like hue, with splendid lustre;
'Tis the only metal known to be liquid
At common temperatures. When frozen,
At minus forty degrees Centigrade,
It is solid, crystalline, and mall'able.
J. Carrington Sellars, Chemistianity, 1873, p. 172
Further reading
  • Mary Elvira Weeks, Discovery of the Elements, comp. rev. by Henry M. Leicester (Easton, Pa.: Journal of Chemical Education, 1968), pp. 46-51.
  • Laszlo Takacs, "Quicksilver from Cinnabar: The First Documented Mechanochemical Reaction?". Journal of Metals, January 2000, p. 12-13. (on-line).
  • The Geology of Quicksilver: The strange and hazardous element mercury is still of scientific interest. (on-line).
  • James B. Calvert, "Mercury" 2002 (on-line).

Sources Index of Persons Index of Alleged Elements