from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Chemical symbol Al; atomic weight 27.1. A metal of silver-white color and brilliant luster, about as hard as zinc, very malleable and ductile, highly sonorous, and a good conductor of heat and electricity.
  • noun Aluminium melts at 654.5° C., and the tensile strength of bars made of it is about 28,000 pounds a square inch. The commercial production of the metal began about 1888, the process most largely used, as at Pittsburg and Niagara, being that of Hall, in which anhydrous alumina from bauxite is dissolved in a bath of fused cryolite in the presence of carbon and electrolyzed by a current of 6 or 7 volts and 7,000 amperes. The price has been brought down from $15 to 30 cents a pound, and the annual output increased from 3 to many thousand tons per annum. The only moderate strength of the metal, certain difficulties in working it (as, for instance, in soldering), and its chemical alterability under some conditions have tended to limit its applications. Among the more recent uses made of it may be mentioned the etching of designs for theatrical and other posters, substitution for copper in wire for the transmission of electric currents, the manufacture of a silver-like paint from the powder, and the production of a very high temperature by rapid combustion of the powder in admixture with sodium dioxid. See aluminothermics.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Chem.) same as aluminum, chiefly British in usage.
  • noun a pale gold-colored alloy of aluminium and copper, used for journal bearings, etc.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A light, silvery metal extracted from bauxite, and a chemical element (symbol Al) with an atomic number of 13.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun a silvery ductile metallic element found primarily in bauxite


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Started to be used in 1812 as an alternative form of aluminum which was invented in the same year.



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  • The preferred British spelling, because:

    "Aluminium, for so we shall take the liberty of writing the word, in preference to aluminum, which has a less classical sound." "Quarterly Review," 1812

    Also aluminum; originally alumium.

    July 10, 2007

  • I've always thought the British spelling was a rather lame attempt to make a cheap metal sound important.

    July 10, 2007

  • Ah, but such classical cheap metal. . .and although it may be cheap, it is costly to the environment, I understand.

    July 10, 2007

  • The names of other elements terminate in "-ium"; the American (mis)spelling "aluminum" is an ugly anomaly.

    August 26, 2008

  • Erm. Platinum? Molybdenum? Long live anomalies, I say!

    August 26, 2008

  • It can hardly be considered a "misspelling" if that's how it was intended to be spelled. So, quit being haughty jerks about it.

    1812, coined by (British chemist) Sir Humphry Davy (1778-1829), from L. alumen "alum" (see alum). Davy originally called it alumium (1808), then amended this to aluminum, which remains the U.S. word, but British editors in 1812 further amended it to aluminium, the modern preferred British form, to better harmonize with other element names (sodium, potassium, etc.).

    It is the British version that is the "misspelling".

    September 22, 2008

  • Doesn't make aluminum any less ugly.

    September 22, 2008

  • I disagree, bilby, but then I grew up with "aluminum", with the stress on the second syllable of course (a crisp iambic). My mind connects the word, pseudoetymologically, with "luminous". The anapestic British word, on the other hand, always sounds somewhat meager to my ear, a mini-word.

    September 22, 2008

  • It's right up (down?) there with nucular for me. I'll have have to navigate away from this discussion before I'm fraught of conniptions.

    September 22, 2008

  • Well, "nucular" is just wrong. The same cannot be said of "aluminum", however it might annoy you. Try to calm down, my friend. Fix yourself a soothing cuppa to stave off any conniptions.

    September 22, 2008