8. Oxygenium (Oxygen) - Elementymology & Elements Multidict

Elementymology & Elements Multidict

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Oxygenium Oxygen
Zuurstof – Sauerstoff – Oxygène – Oxígeno – 酸素 – Кислород – 氧
Multilingual dictionary

Oxygenium Latin

— Germanic
Suurstof Afrikaans
Oxygen, Ilt Danish
Sauerstoff German
Oxygen English
Súrevni, Ilt Faroese
Soerstof Frisian (West)
Súrefni, ²Ildi Icelandic
Sauerstoff Luxembourgish
Zuurstof Dutch
Oksygen Norwegian
Syre Swedish

— Italic
Ocsichén Aragonese
Oxighenu Aromanian
Oxíxenu Asturian
Oxygen Catalan
Oxígeno Spanish
Oxygène French
Ossigjen Friulian
Osíxeno Galician
Ossigeno Italian
Ussògen Lombard
Oxigèn Occitan
Oxigénio Portuguese
Oxigen Romanian - Moldovan

— Slavic
Кислород [Kislorod] Bulgarian
Kiseonik, ²Kisik Bosnian
Кісларод [kislarod] Belarusian
Kyslík Czech
Kisik Croatian
Krziseń Kashubian
Кислород [Kislorod] Macedonian
Tlen Polish
Кислород [Kislorod] Russian
Kyslík Slovak
Kisik Slovenian
Кисеоник [Kiseonik] Serbian
Кисень [kysen'] Ukrainian

— Baltic
Deguonis Lithuanian
Skābeklis Latvian
Degounis Samogitian

— Celtic
Oksigen Breton
ócsigen Welsh
Ocsaigin Gaelic (Irish)
Ocsaigin Gaelic (Scottish)
Ocsygien Gaelic (Manx)
Oxyjen Cornish

— Other Indo-European
Οξυγονο [oxygono] Greek
Թթվածին [t't'vatsin] Armenian
Oksigjen[i] Albanian

— Indo-Iranian/Iranian
Oksîjen Kurdish
Туаггуыр [tuagguyr] Ossetian
Оксиген [Oksigen] Tajik

— Indo-Iranian/Indo-Aryan
অক্সিজেন [aksijena] Bengali
اکسیژن [aksyžn] Persian
ઑક્સીજન [oksījana] Gujarati
ऑक्सीजन [oksījana] Hindi

Hapnik Estonian
Happi Finnish
Oxigén Hungarian
Шомвачужысь [Šomvačužys'] Komi
Шопештыш [Šopeštəš] Mari
Шапам, Шапа кожф [shapam, shapa kozhf] Moksha
Hapasnik Võro

Oksigen Azerbaijani
Йӳçлĕк [Iüçlĕk] Chuvash
Оттек [ottek] Kazakh
Кычкылтек [Kyčkyltek] Kyrgyz
Хүчилтөрөгч [hüčiltörögč] Mongolian
Oksijen Turkish
ئوكسىگېن ['oksigen] Uyghur
Kislorod Uzbek

Other (Europe)
Oxigenoa Basque
ნახშირბადი [žangbadi] Georgian

أكسجين [uksijīn] Arabic
חמצן [hamtsan] Hebrew
Oksiġin, ²Ossiġenu Maltese

Yòng (氧) Hakka
酸素 [sanso] Japanese
산소 [sanso] Korean
ออกซิเจน [oksichēn] Thai
Oxy, Oxi Vietnamese
[yang3 / yeung5] Chinese

Oxígeno Cebuano
Oksigen Indonesian
Hāora Māori
Oksigen Malay

Other Asiatic
ഓക്സിജന്‍ [ōksijanam] Malayalam
ஒட்சிசன் [okcicaṉ] Tamil

Oksijɛ́ní Lingala
Okesejene Sesotho
Oksijeni Swahili

Ehēcayoh Nahuatl

Muksichaq, ²Wayay, ³Uksihinu Quechua

Swaskotriki Sranan Tongo

Oksigeno Esperanto

New names
Ocsion Atomic Elements
Oxysgenos Dorseyville
memory peg

Colorless gas with a slightly sweet smell at high concentrations
melting point -218 °C; -361 °F
boiling point -183 °C; -297 °F
density 0.0014 g/cc; 0.089 pounds/cubic foot
1774 Joseph Priestley, England
οξυς (oxys) = acid + γεινομαι (geinomai) = to engender, bring forth
⇒ bringing forth acid (Greek)
named by Antoine Lavoisier in 1789

History & Etymology

The eight century Chinese writer Mao-Khóa wrote that the atmosphere is composed of two substances: Yang or complete air (Nitrogen), and Yin, or incomplete air (Oxygen). Yin tended to bond with many metals, Sulphur and Carbon, but not with Gold. According to him, Oxygen could be prepared by heating up salpeter (Potassium nitrate) and certain minerals like pyrolusite (manganese dioxide). Besides, he also recognized that Oxygen was one of the constituents of water. (According to the Orientalist Heinrich Julius Klaproth (1783-1835), son of the chemist Martin Heinrich Klaproth. Later writers have questionned the authenticity of the manuscript.)

The first European who observed that air was not an element but contained several gases was Leonard da Vinci (1452-1519). Later, in 1669, John Mayow (1640-1679) stated that the spiritus nitro-aereus (Oxygen) caused a mass increase in the metals when heated up. Determining the Oxygen content in the air, he proved that it was consumed during the combustion and during the breathing of the animals, and that the two processes had the same purpose. In 1678 Oxygen was extracted from salpeter by the Danish chemist Oluf Borch (Olaus Borrichius, 1626-1690); in 1731, from the same substance by the British natural scientist Stephen Hales (1677-1761); and in 1774 from Mercury oxide by the French chemist Pierre Bayen (1725-1798). However, none of these scientists knew how to collect it, did not study its properties, nor did they recognize it as an elementary substance.

The behavior of oxygen and nitrogen as components of air, led to the advancement of the phlogiston theory of combustion. Phlogiston was thought to be a material that was transferred during burning and respiration; a unifying idea in 18th-century chemistry, it avoided quantitative considerations but was the reverse of the oxidative interpretation of combustion and respiration established by Lavoisier.

Joseph PriestleyJoseph Priestley (1733-1804) is generally accepted as the discover of Oxygen, although Scheele was a few years earlier (see below). "Priestley's most famous discovery occurred on August 1, 1774, when he obtained a colourless gas by heating red mercuric oxide (he called it mercurius calcinatus per se). Finding that a candle would burn in it «with a remarkably vigorous flame,» he called it «dephlogisticated air» because he believed, accepting prevailing theory, that ordinary air became saturated with phlogiston when it could no longer support combustion or life. (...) Priestley was not yet sure, however, that he had discovered a «new species of air.» (...) The following October Priestley accompanied Shelburne on a journey through Belgium, Holland, Germany, and France, where in Paris he informed Lavoisier how he obtained his new «air.» The meeting of the two scientists was highly significant for the future of chemistry: Lavoisier required no more than the barest intimation of the success of Priestley's experiments to appreciate their significance. He immediately repeated them and in 1775-80 conducted intensive investigations from which he correctly deduced the elementary nature of oxygen, recognized it as the active «principle» of the atmosphere, interpreted its role in combustion and respiration, and gave it its name (1789). Priestley, however, did not accept all of Lavoisier's views and continued in particular to uphold the phlogiston theory until, in his old age, he was its last champion." [From Roger's biography of Priestley].

Carl Wilhelm ScheeleCarl Wilhelm Scheele (1742-1786) prepared oxygen first in 1771 by heating silver carbonate, mercuric carbonate, mercuric oxide, nitre, and magnesium nitrate, and by distilling a mixture of manganese dioxide and arsenic acid. Despite delayed publication in 1777, due to neglect by his publisher, Scheele is universally recognized as an independent discoverer of oxygen.

The name is given by Antoine Lavoisier in his Traité élémentaire de chimie of 1789:

Lavoisier makes here clear that the second part of the name "-gène" is derived from the Greek word γεινομαι (geinomai) = to engender, bring forth, and not from γενναω (gennaō) = to produce, as was assumed later and found in many text books.


In several languages the name of the element is derived from their word for "acid":
  • German: Sauer = acid, and Stoff = material.
  • Dutch: zuur, suur, soer = acid, and stof = material.
  • Swedish: syra = acid.
  • Russian etc.: Identical to the old Polish name 'kwasoród' is derived from 'kwas' = acidity; the second part 'ród' means 'root', 'dynasty' and 'origin'. In chemical terminology it has the same function as 'stof' in Dutch names.
  • Czech: kysely = acidic.
  • Finnish: happo = acid.
  • Japanese: 酸 = Chinese character for acid, and 素 "so" (elementary, principle, naked, or uncovered).
Other languages use a word related to "to burn":
  • The Danish word ilt was coined by the Danish scientist H. C. Ørsted in the early 19yh century. He derived it from the noun "ild" = fire. Nowadays, in strictly scientific contexts, chemists use the international words oxygen, but ilt is used for everyday purposes and in many technical contexts.
  • The Lithuanian deguonis is derived from degti = to burn.
  • The modern Polish tlen is unique in the Slavic languages, it is derived from 'tlenic' = to oxydate, that in turn is derived from 'tlic' = to smoulder, to glow.

Just as Helium was discovered by means of spectroscopical analysis of the the sun, there were a few other elements discovered in the spectra of stars and nebulae which are not known on earth: Coronium (see Iron) and Nebulium. The latter was detected in planetary nebulae, a class of astromomical objects, which spectrum was observed in 1864 by Sir William Huggins. He found only a single bright line only. Huggins suspected it must be emitted from a previously unknown substance, which he called Nebulium. Better observations with higher resolutions showed that there are more lines. In 1918, W.H. Wright made extensive observations of the nebulae. Among the many lines catalogued less than half were identified, in particular the strong 4959 and 5007 Å pair, which could not be identified and was attributed to Nebulium. John William Nicholson, who had in 1911 constructed certain atomic models for Nebulium, and dealt with the problem in terms of a dynamical theory of a hypothetical element. The new substance which he called Protofluorine (Protofluor), differs from Nebulium only in the fact that it has a central positive charge of 5e, while nebulium has a positive central charge of 4e (e being the electronic charge). (note).

In 1927 I.S. Bowen showed that Nebulium is Oxygen which has lost two electrons ([O III]) (note).

Chemistianity 1873
OXYGEN, the Queen of Body Affection'd
The supporter of man's Earthual life;
The needed Air-puff for all common forms
Of combustion in term'd live Animals,
In ordinary burning Wood or Coal;
And the prime mover in most heat-felt goceptions,
Is a colourless gaseous metalloid,
Tasteless and devoid of colour. Pressure
To the fullest extent of known power,
And the most intense cold, fail to make it liquid.
J. Carrington Sellars, Chemistianity, 1873, p. 61-62
Further reading
  • Mary Elvira Weeks, Discovery of the Elements, comp. rev. by Heny M. Leicester (Easton, Pa.: Journal of Chemical Education, 1968), pp. 211-231.

Sources Index of Persons Index of Alleged Elements