How Was Zinc Named?


Quick Answer

The Royal Society of Chemistry explains that zinc derives its name from the German "zinke." The German word may be derived from the Persian word 'sing', which means "stone."

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How Was Zinc Named?
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Full Answer

According to Wikipedia, zinc may have been named after the German word "zinke" by the alchemist Paracelsus, who lived about 200 years before Andreas Marggraf, the man normally credited with discovering pure metallic zinc. According to Oxford Dictionaries, the German word "zinke" translates to "prong" or "tooth."

According to The Royal Society of Chemistry, although zinc was known to the Romans, it was barely used during the period of the empire. It was first recognized as a metal in India, where the waste from a zinc smelter at Zawar shows the large scale refining of zinc from the years 1100 to 1500.

Zinc was being refined in China by the 1500s, and an East India Company ship sank off the coast of Sweden in 1745 carrying a cargo load of Chinese zinc. In 1668, Flemish metallurgist P. Moras de Respour reported extraction of metallic zinc from zinc oxide, but as far as Europe is concerned, zinc was discovered by the German chemist Andreas Marggraf in 1746, who was the first to recognize it as a new metal.

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