2. Helium - 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.

Helium – Helium – Hélium – Hélio – ヘリウム – Гелий – 氦
Multilingual dictionary

Helium Latin

— Germanic
Helium Afrikaans
Helium Danish
Helium German
Helium English
Helium Faroese
Helium Frisian (West)
Helín Icelandic
Helium Luxembourgish
Helium Dutch
Helium Norwegian
Helium Swedish

— Italic
Elio Aragonese
Heliumu Aromanian
Heliu Asturian
Heli Catalan
Hélio Spanish
Hélium French
Eli Friulian
Helio Galician
Elio Italian
Éli Lombard
Eli Occitan
Hélio Portuguese
Heliu Romanian - Moldovan

— Slavic
Хелий [Helij] Bulgarian
Helij[um] Bosnian
Гелій [helij] Belarusian
Helium Czech
Helij Croatian
Él Kashubian
Хелиум [Helium] Macedonian
Hel Polish
Гелий [Gelij] Russian
Hélium Slovak
Helij Slovenian
Хелијум [Helijum] Serbian
Гелій [helij] Ukrainian

— Baltic
Helis Lithuanian
Hēlijs Latvian
Helis Samogitian

— Celtic
Heliom Breton
Heliwm Welsh
Héiliam Gaelic (Irish)
Hèiliam Gaelic (Scottish)
Hailium Gaelic (Manx)
Helyum Cornish

— Other Indo-European
Ήλιον [hilion] Greek
Հելիում [helium] Armenian
Helium[i] Albanian

— Indo-Iranian/Iranian
Hêlyûm Kurdish
Гелий [gelij] Ossetian
Гелий [Geli'] Tajik

— Indo-Iranian/Indo-Aryan
হিলিয়াম [hiliẏāma] Bengali
هلیم [hlym] Persian
હીલિયમ [hīliyama] Gujarati
हिलियम [hiliyama] Hindi

Heelium Estonian
Helium Finnish
Hélium Hungarian
Гелий [Gelij] Komi
Гелий [Gelij] Mari
Гели [geli] Moksha
Heelium Võro

Helium Azerbaijani
Гели [Geli] Chuvash
Гелий [gelij] Kazakh
Гелий [Gelij] Kyrgyz
Гели [geli] Mongolian
Helyum Turkish
گېلىي [geliy] Uyghur
Geliy Uzbek

Other (Europe)
Helioa Basque
ჰელიუმი [heliumi] Georgian

هيليوم [hiliyūm] Arabic
הליום [helium] Hebrew
Ħiljum, ²Elju Maltese

Hoi (氦) Hakka
ヘリウム [heriumu] Japanese
헬륨 [hellyum] Korean
ฮีเลียม [hīliam] Thai
Heli Vietnamese
[hai4 / hoi6] Chinese

Helio Cebuano
Helium Indonesian
Haumāmā Māori
Helium Malay

Other Asiatic
ഹീലിയം [hīliyam] Malayalam
ஹீலியம் [hīliyam] Tamil

Eliyúmu Lingala
Heliamo Sesotho
Heli Swahili

Tōnatiuyoh Nahuatl

Ilyu Quechua

Helimi Sranan Tongo

Helio Esperanto

New names
Helion Atomic Elements
Balloonium Dorseyville
memory peg

Odorless, colorless, inert gas which gives off a peach colored light under high voltage
melting point below -272 °C; -458 °F
boiling point -269 °C; -452 °F
density 0.00018 g/cc; 0.01 pounds/cubic foot
1895 Sir William Ramsay, England, and independently by Per Theodor Cleve & Nils Langlet, Sweden
Ήλιος (hèlios) = the Sun (Greek)
named by Sir Norman Lockyer in 1869

History & Etymology

The French astronomer Pierre-Jules-César Janssen (1824-1907) went to India to observe the 1868 total solar eclipse and to make the first spectroscopic study of the sun's chromosphere. He noted a yellow spectral line which did not quite match Sodium or any other element.
That same year, the English astronomer Sir Norman Lockyer (1836-1920) observed a yellow line in the solar spectrum that did not correspond to the known D1 and D2 lines of Sodium, and so he named it the D3 line. Lockyer concluded that this new line was caused by an element in the Sun that was unknown on Earth; he and the chemist Sir Edward Frankland (1825-1899) proposed the name Helium, after the Greek Ήλιος [hèlios] = the sun (note).

Mary Elvira Weeks says that in the light of present knowledge the name Helium is a misnomer, for it has the suffix -ium which is characteristic of the names of the metals.

The search for this new element in the Earth was not very productive until 1895, when Sir William Ramsay (1852-1916) was told by Henry Meirs, at the British Museum, that, on heating, a Norwegian mineral cléveite (clevite) gave off a gas that Meirs though might be nitrogen. Ramsay thought that it might be a compound of argon. In two days, he showed that it was a new inert gas, helium. In this gas spectrum the bright yellow stripe appeared, proving the existence of helium on Earth. It was independently discovered in clevite by the Swedish chemists Per Theodor Cleve (1804-1905) and Nils Langlet (1868-1936) about the same time.

Helium Monument in Amarillo, Texas (Jack B. Kelley Plaza). On the sign near the monument is the following text:


Erected 1968, commemorating the 100th anniversary of discovery of helium in the gaseous atmosphere surrounding the sun. (The discovery of traces of helium on earth was first announced 1895.)

The four time columns are filled with books, documents, and various artifacts that will tell future generations about life in 1968. After the time columns were filled, the caps were welded on and the contents sealed in a helium atmosphere. In twenty-five, fifty, one hundred and one thousand years from the time of filling, the four individual columns are to be opened.

Helium is an element which occurs in commercial volume in natural gas produced since 1918 from wells in the Texas panhandle. In 1929 the first of several helium processing plants began operations near Amarillo. Large quantities of helium extracted from natural gas are stored underground northwest of Amarillo, and will provide a valuable source of supply for many years.

Once used in lighter-than-air craft, helium now serves vital needs in industry, science, and the nations military and space programs."

According to this text, the first columns should have been opened in 1993. The photo of monument and text are taken on 26 March 2006 and the opening is not mentioned.

Orthohelium and Parahelium or Asterium

Soon after Ramsay separated Helium and proved that it was chemically inert, similar to Argon, Carl Runge and Louis Paschen, wrote that Helium consists of the mixture of two gases: Orthohelium (= Helium) and Parahelium; one of them with a yellow spectral line, the other with a green line. They proposed to name the second gas Asterium, from the Greek astros = starry. Ramsay and Travers proved that it is erroneous, since the color of the spectral line of Helium depends on the gas pressure.

Coronium and Nebulium

After Helium was discovered by means of spectroscopical analysis of the total solar eclipse of 1868, astronomers began to point their telescopes at distant stars and nebulae. Their findings were scrupulously published in astronomical yearbooks, and some even found their way into chemical journals. These were findings which treated of alleged discoveries of new elements, which were given names such as Coronium (see Iron), Geocoronium (see Nitrogen), Nebulium (see Oxygen), Archonium, and Protofluorine (see Oxygen). Apart from their names, chemists knew nothing about them. But bearing in mind the Helium story, they placed these celestial strangers in the Periodic System before Hydrogen or in the space between Hydrogen and Helium. However, finally it was found out that the unusual spectral lines originated from known elements in unusual conditions, and Helium stayed the only element discovered outside the earth.


Edward C. Pickering discovered ionized Helium lines in the hot star Zeta Puppis in 1896, and mistood it for a form of Hydrogen. Later these lines are found in other hot emission line stars and Wolf-Rayet stars. Pickering was convinced that the lines were due to Hydrogen under unknown temperature and pressure conditions. What was then called the "additional hydrogen lines" or the Pickering series could be fitted to the Balmer formula, provided half integral quantum numbers were allowed. Sir Norman Lockyer called the spectrum of ionized Helium Proto-hydrogen (note).

Helios [Ήλιος], son of Hyperion and Theia, is the Greek god of the sun. Each morning at dawn he rises from the ocean in the east and rides in his chariot, pulled by for horses — Pyrois, Eos, Aethon and Phlegon — through the sky, to descend at night in the west. He sees and knows all, and was called upon by witnesses. He was represented as a youth with a halo, standing in a chariot, occasionally with a billowing cloak. For more information, see: Encyclopedia Mythica.

Further reading
  • W. Ramsay, The Gases of the Atmosphere: The History of Their Discovery. London: Macmillan, 1915.
  • Mary Elvira Weeks, Discovery of the Elements, comp. rev. by Henry M. Leicester (Easton, Pa.: Journal of Chemical Education, 1968), pp. 757-764.
  • Edelgasse. Gmelins Handbuch der anorganische Chemie, 8. Aufl.; System-Nummer 1 (1926).
  • Univ. Coll. London, Dept. of Chemistry, The Discovery of Helium & Other Gases, (on-line).
  • L. Vlasov & D. Trifonov, 107 Stories About Chemistry (transl. from the Russian by David Sobolev) 1970: How Astronomers Sent the Chemists on a Wild Goose Chase (on-line).

Sources Index of Persons Index of Alleged Elements