• Ian Baker


This is not like the lyrics of the George and Ira Gershwin song “Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off” sung by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in the 1937 film “Shall We Dance”, of “you say tomatoes (to-may-toes), I say tomatoes (to-mah-toes)”. Americans and British pronounce the name of this element differently because they spell it differently. The metal was named aluminum even before it was first isolated by the British chemist Humphrey Davy (1778–1829) in 1807. The name was later changed to aluminium to bring its spelling more in line with other metallic elements that end in “ium”, a name that was adopted by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry. Oddly, in 1925 the American Chemical Society decided to revert to the original name aluminum, which is now the usage in America, while elsewhere in the English-speaking world it is still aluminium. Whichever spelling you use, the name is derived from Alum, the common name of hydrated potassium aluminum sulfate.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ian Baker
    • 1
  1. 1.Thayer School of EngineeringDartmouth CollegeHanoverUSA

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