47. Argentum (Silver) - Elementymology & Elements Multidict

Elementymology & Elements Multidict

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.

Argentum Silver
Zilver – Silber – Argent – Plata – 銀 – Серебро – 銀
Multilingual dictionary

Argentum Latin

— Germanic
Silwer Afrikaans
Sølv Danish
Silber German
Silver English
Silvur Faroese
Sulver Frisian (West)
Silfur Icelandic
Sëlwer Luxembourgish
Zilver Dutch
Sølv Norwegian
Silver Swedish

— Italic
Archén Aragonese
Asime Aromanian
Plata Asturian
Argent Catalan
Plata Spanish
Argent French
Arint Friulian
Prata Galician
Argento Italian
Argeent Lombard
Argent Occitan
Prata Portuguese
Argint Romanian - Moldovan

— Slavic
Сребро [Srebro] Bulgarian
Srebro Bosnian
Серабро [serabro] Belarusian
Stříbro Czech
Srebro Croatian
Strzébro Kashubian
Сребро [Srebro] Macedonian
Srebro Polish
Серебро [Serebro] Russian
Striebro Slovak
Srebro Slovenian
Сребро [Srebro] Serbian
Срібло [sriblo] Ukrainian

— Baltic
Sidabras Lithuanian
Sudrabs Latvian
Sėdabros Samogitian

— Celtic
Arc'hant Breton
Arian Welsh
Airgead Gaelic (Irish)
Airgead Gaelic (Scottish)
Argid Gaelic (Manx)
Arhans Cornish

— Other Indo-European
Αργυρος [argyros] Greek
Արծաթ [artsat'] Armenian
Argjent Albanian

— Indo-Iranian/Iranian
Zîv Kurdish
Æвзист [ævzist] Ossetian
Нуқра [Nukra] Tajik

— Indo-Iranian/Indo-Aryan
রূপা [rūpā] Bengali
نقره [nqrh] Persian
ચાંદી [cā'dī] Gujarati
चाँदी [chā.ndī] Hindi

Hõbe Estonian
Hopea Finnish
Ezüst Hungarian
Эзысь [Èzys'] Komi
Ший [Šij] Mari
Сия [sija] Moksha
Hõpõ Võro

Gümüş Azerbaijani
Кĕмĕл [Kĕmĕl] Chuvash
Күміс [kümis] Kazakh
Кумуш [Kumuš] Kyrgyz
Мөнгө [möngö] Mongolian
Gümüş Turkish
كۈمۈش [kümüş] Uyghur
Kumush Uzbek

Other (Europe)
Zilarra Basque
ვერცხლი [verc'xli] Georgian

فضة [fiDDah] Arabic
כסף [kesef] Hebrew
Fidda Maltese

Ngiùn Hakka
[gin] Japanese
[eun] Korean
เงิน [ngoen] Thai
Bạc Vietnamese
[yin2 / ngan4] Chinese

Plata Cebuano
Perak Indonesian
Kawata Māori
Perak Malay

Other Asiatic
വെള്ളി [veḷḷi] Malayalam
வெள்ளி [veļļi] Tamil

Sɛ́ngi Lingala
Silivera Sesotho
Agenti Swahili

Iztāc teōcuitlatl Nahuatl

Qullqi q'illay Quechua

Srivru Sranan Tongo

Arĝento Esperanto

New names
Silveron Atomic Elements
Forkium Dorseyville
memory peg

Reflective precious metal which easily tarnishes upon exposure to sulfur gases or halogens
melting point 962 °C; 1763 °F
boiling point 2212 °C; 4014 °F
density 10.50 g/cc; 655.49 pounds/cubic foot
Known to the ancients
Argentum, Latin word for this element

History & Etymology

Silver is known by the mankind since Pre-History, and its discovery is estimated happened to shortly after that of copper and gold. The oldest reference to the element appears in the book of Genesis.

"And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold." (Gen. 13:2)
The Egyptians considered gold to be a perfect metal, and gave it the symbol of a circle. Since silver was the closest to gold in perfection, it was given the symbol of a semi-circle. Later this semi-circle led to a growing moon symbol, probably due to the likeness between the shining metal and the moon glow.

The noble metals, gold and silver, are found in the native state, and as is well known, gold and silver were used to make jewelry and sheet metal due to the great ductility and lustre of the pure metals. Its malleability and ductility make it ideal for ornamental purposes. It was also used for paying debts, in personal and religious places decoration and in utensils of the wealthiest houses.

Some mineral scums in old mines of the Near-East and in some islands of the Aegean sea seem to reveal that by 5000 b.C. a method was already known to separate silver from lead. Early gold and silver ornaments from the Indian subcontinent are found from Indus Valley sites such as Mohenjodaro (ca 3000 BC).

The monetary use of silver may well be as old as that of gold but the abundance of the native metal was probably far less, so that comparable supplies were not available until a method of winning the metal from its ores had been discovered. It appears, however, that by perhaps 3000 BC a form of cupellation was in operation in Asia Minor and its use gradually spread, so that silver coinage was of crucial economic importance to all subsequent classical Mediterranean civilizations.

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 Silver is reflected in the many different words for this metal. See the list of names to the left and in the overview of Silver in over 100 languages (click here).

We can identify at least seven different roots.

1. Argentum / Argyros (most Italic languages, Celtic languages, Greek)
The Latin argentum and the Greek argyros are derived from Indo-European "arg-u-ro" = silver (or generally a shining metal ?) and related to Sanskrit "arj-una" = light.
The names in the Roman languages (except some on the Iberian peninsula), in the Celtic languages and in Albanian are derivations from the Latin.
2. Silubr / Sirebro (Germanic, Slavic and Baltic languages)
The Slavic and Germanic forms are related: Old Saxon siluvar, Old High German silbar, Old Norse silfr, Gothic silubr, complying with Old Slavic sirebro, Lithuanian sidabras, Old Prussian siraplis. The differences between these forms indicate a loan word, probably from an eastern language, anyway from Asia Minor and maybe even further, cf. Assyrian sarpu (de Vries).
3. Plata (Spanish and Portuguese)
In Medieval Latin plata means "plate, piece of metal," perhaps from Greek platys = "flat, broad."
4. Sim (Aromanian)
The Aromanian asime comes from Turkish "sim", silver (via Greek "asimi", silver) (information by Prof. Emil Vrabie).
5. Hopea (Uralic languages: Finnish and Estonian)
6. Gümüş (Altaic languages)
Also Hungarian?
7. Noqrra (Pashtu, Tajik)

It is the only element after which a country is named (Argentina > argentum).


Chemistianity 1873
SILVER, the proverbially bright metal,
(Argentum), is of a bright white colour
With brilliant lustre, not affected
By pure Aire. Silver Suboxide is black,
The Monoxide is brown. Silver is the best
Known conductor of Electricity
And Heat; 'tis extremely ductile; fine Silver wire
Of seventy-eight one-thousandth inch diameter
Will support one hundred and eighty pounds weight
Without breaking. Sulphur, if present in Air,
In time tarnishes Silver articles.
J. Carrington Sellars, Chemistianity, 1873, p. XX
Further reading
  • Mary Elvira Weeks, Discovery of the Elements, comp. rev. by Henry M. Leicester (Easton, Pa.: Journal of Chemical Education, 1968), pp. 13-18.
  • Brian Jackson, An element of surprise: silver. The Edinburgh Geologist - Issue no 38 - Spring 2002 (on-line).
  • S. Srinivasan and S. Ranganathan, Metallurgical Heritage of India (on-line).
  • James B. Calvert, "Copper, Silver and Gold" 2002 (on-line).

From Andis Kaulins, Indo-European Afro-Asiatic Words for Metals - Copper Lead Tin Iron Bronze Gold Amber:
Sumerian KUK for "silver" is related to Latvian "KUKURS" used to describe "FLAX, SILVER BUDS". KUK- in most Latvian terms means "clump, bud, piece".

Sources Index of Persons Index of Alleged Elements