33. Arsenicum (Arsenic) - Elementymology & Elements Multidict

Elementymology & Elements Multidict

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Arsenicum Arsenic
Arseen – Arsen – Arsenic – Arsénico – ヒ素 – Мышьяк – 砷
Multilingual dictionary

Arsenicum Latin

— Germanic
Arseen Afrikaans
Arsen Danish
Arsen German
Arsenic English
Arsenikk Faroese
Arsenikum Frisian (West)
Arsen Icelandic
Arsen Luxembourgish
Arseen Dutch
Arsen Norwegian
Arsenik Swedish

— Italic
Arsén Aragonese
Aresenu Aromanian
Arsénicu Asturian
Arsènic Catalan
Arsénico Spanish
Arsenic French
Arsenic Friulian
Arsénico Galician
Arsenico Italian
Arsénich Lombard
Arsenic Occitan
Arsénic Portuguese
Arsen Romanian - Moldovan

— Slavic
Арсен [Arsen] Bulgarian
Arsen Bosnian
Мыш'як [myš'jak] Belarusian
Arzen Czech
Arsen Croatian
Arsén Kashubian
Арсен [Arsen] Macedonian
Arsen Polish
Мышьяк [Myš"jak] Russian
Arzén Slovak
Arzen Slovenian
Арсен [Arsen] Serbian
Міш'як [miš'jak] Ukrainian

— Baltic
Arsenas Lithuanian
Arsēns Latvian
Arsens Samogitian

— Celtic
Arsenik Breton
ársenig Welsh
Airsnic, Arsnaig, Arsanaic Gaelic (Irish)
Arsanaic Gaelic (Scottish)
Arsnick Gaelic (Manx)
Arsenyk Cornish

— Other Indo-European
Αρσενικο [arseniko] Greek
Արսեն [arsen] Armenian
Arseni[k] Albanian

— Indo-Iranian/Iranian
Arsenik Kurdish
Мышъяк [myš"jak] Ossetian
Арсен [Arsen, ²Mysh'yak] Tajik

— Indo-Iranian/Indo-Aryan
আর্সেনিক [ārsenika] Bengali
آرسنیک [ârsnyk] Persian
આર્સેનિકનો [ārsenikano] Gujarati
आर्सेनिक [ārsenika] Hindi

Arseen Estonian
Arseeni Finnish
Arzén Hungarian
Еджыд из [Edčyd iz] Komi
Наргӱмыж [Nargüməž] Mari
Суляма [suljama] Moksha
Arseen Võro

Arsen Azerbaijani
Мышьяк [Myš"jak] Chuvash
Мышъяк [myš"jak] Kazakh
Мышъяк [Myš"jak] Kyrgyz
Мишьяк [miš'jak] Mongolian
Arsenik Turkish
ئارسېن ['arsen] Uyghur
Margimush Uzbek

Other (Europe)
Artsenikoa Basque
დარიშხბანი [darišxbani] Georgian

زرنيخ [zarnīkh] Arabic
ארסן [arsen] Hebrew
Arsenik, ²Arseniku Maltese

Sṳ̂n (砷) Hakka
ヒ素 [hiso] Japanese
비소 [biso] Korean
สารหนู [sānnū] Thai
Asen Vietnamese
[shen1 / san1] Chinese

Arsenico Cebuano
Arsen Indonesian
Ateniki Māori
Arsenik, ²Arsen Malay

Other Asiatic
ആര്‍സെനിക് [ārsenikam] Malayalam
ஆர்செனிக் [ārcenik] Tamil

Aseni Lingala
Arseniki Sesotho
Aseniki Swahili

Arsénico Nahuatl

Arsiniku Quechua

Arsenikumi Sranan Tongo

Arseno Esperanto

New names
Arsenon Atomic Elements
Woodium Dorseyville
memory peg

Gray-crystalline non-metal, or a yellow colored powder
melting point 817 °C; 1503 °F
boiling point 613 °C; 1135 °F
density 1.97-5.73 g/cc; 122.98-357.71 pounds/cubic foot
13th century, Albertus Magnus, Germany
زرنيخ ([al-]zarnīkh) = gold-colored (Arabic)

History & Etymology

Arsenic has been known since Antiquity in the form of its sulphides. Aristotle (384-322 BC) makes reference to sandarach and his student Theophrastus of Eresos (370-286 BC) named it arhenicum. The oxide known as White Arsenic is mentioned by the Greek alchemist Olympiodorus of Thebes (5th century AD), also obtained it by roasting Arsenic Sulphide.
Pliny, in his Historia Naturalis said:

    "Sandarach is found in Gold and Silver mines. The redder it is, the more powerful its odour, the better its quality... Arsenicum is composed of the same matter as sandarach; the best in quality has the same color as that of the best gold, and that which is pale in color resembling sandarach is of inferior quality."
Pigments through the Ages

Strabo (Geography 12.3.40) tells us:

"In [Pompeiupolis in Pontus] is Mt. Sandaracurgium ... which is hollowed out in consequence of the [arsenic] mining done there, since the workmen have excavated great cavities beneath it. The mine used to be worked by publicans who used as miners the slaves sold in the market because of their crimes; for, in addition to the painfulness of the work, they say that the air in the mines is both deadly and hard to endure on account of the grievous odor of the ore [red arsenic] so that the workmen are doomed to a quick death. What is more, the mine is often left idle because of the unprofitability of it, since the workmen are not only more than two hundred in number, but are continually spent by disease and death."
In the 11th century the Persian alchemist Ibn Sina, Latinized as Avicenna (980-1036) wrote that there are three forms Arsenic, white, yellow, and red - and that the white is obtained from the other by sublimation:
  • White Arsenic (arsenic trioxide, As2O3).
  • Yellow Arsenic (arsenic trisulphide, As2S3), (yellow) orpiment (> auripigmentum (Latin), = golden pigment), King's yellow.
  • Red Arsenic (arsenic sulphide, AsS, As2S2), sandarach (Latin sandaraca, cf. Pers. sandarus, Skt. sindura), realgar (> rahj al ghar (Arabic) = powder of the mine), also named red orpiment, ruby arsenic, ruby sulphur.

Albertus Magnus (1193-1280) was the first to state that Arsenic contained a metal-like substance. In his book De Mineralibus he described obtaining the metal by heating orpiment with soap. However, his documentation is considered vague. In the Middle Ages, Arsenic received various names, such as Scherbenkobold, Napchenkobold, Goblet-fiend, Bowl-sprite, Cobaltu, etc.

It was not until 1649 that Johann Schröder (1600-1664) clearly reported the preparation of metallic Arsenic by reducing White Arsenic with charcoal. Thirty-four years later, Nicolas Lemery (1645-1715) also observed that metallic Arsenic was produced by heating White Arsenic with soap and potash.
This and all other metals were considered compounds until Antoine Lavoisier (1743-1794) established a new definition for elements.

Native arsenic with calcite  

Arsenicum is from Arabic al-zarnīkh; this in turn is borrowed via Aramaic from Persian zarnik, "gold-colored" > zar = gold. It refers without any doubt to the golden colour of arsenic's chief ore: Yellow orpiment, which was well known as a dye-stuff by the ancients. The word zarnīkh or zirnikhi was borrowed by the Greeks and converted into αρσενικον [arsenikon]. This happened to sound very similar to αρρηνικον [arrènikon] = masculine, powerful (from αρρην, αρσην [arrèn, arsèn] = male). Due to this coincidence, it expressed the powerful properties of arsenic as a poison.
Αρσενικον became arsenicum in Latin, and came in most of the languages.

Alternative names
  • Russian and other Slavic languages, Мышьяк, seems to be derived from мыш [myš] = mouse, perhaps it means "mouse poison".
  • Arabian زرنيخ [zarnīkh], see above.
  • New name Arsenon: According to The Atomic Elements: "Arsenon means heavenly to the 3.2 billion people in Asia in India, China and Japan. However, the word arsenic means, slimy and urine to them and that is why the name was changed."
Chemistianity 1873
ARSENIC, the fool and villain's poison,
Is a Metalloid of steel gray colour,
Crystalline, lustrous, and very brittle.
It tarnishes in Water, and in Air,
Unless they are freed from Carbonic Acid.
Heated in Air it volatilises
Without fusion, but with rapid oxidation
And smell like garlic, to Arsenious Oxide
Call'd in trade White Oxide of Arsenic.
J. Carrington Sellars, Chemistianity, 1873, p. 93
Further reading
  • Mary Elvira Weeks, Discovery of the Elements, comp. rev. by Henry M. Leicester (Easton, Pa.: Journal of Chemical Education, 1968), pp. 92-95.
  • Robert A. Nelson, Adept Alchemy III: The Philosophers' Stone, Arsenic & Gur Part One - Arsenic & Gur Part Two.
  • Anil Aggrawal, Arsenic - The King of Poisons. Science Reporter, Febr. 1997. (on-line).

Sources Index of Persons Index of Alleged Elements