I couldn't resist; I had to do another element. Cobalt (Co) has one of the most fascinating etymologies on the Periodic Table. it can be traced back to the German word kobold, meaning "goblin". How did this transition occur? As German miners in the thirteenth century were sifting through rocks containing Cobalt, Arsenic, and Sulfur, they noticed that they got sick whenever they worked with this deadly combination. Superstitious as medieval peasants were, these German goofballs assumed that their work was cursed by goblins, or to use their word for it, kobolds (this is at this point also an English word. It's pretty rare though, and is basically a lesser-known synonym for goblin). Through the wornderful word of metynomy, since the rock was associated with kobolds, it became known as a kobold itself. This word hopped around in Germanic, became cobalt the color, became exclusively referred to concerning the actual Cobalt portion of the ore, and eventually got landed between much more serious words like Uranium and Molybdenum. Kobold as a word in German literally meant "house-goblin", from the words kobe "hut" (I couldn't trace the etymology of this bugger) and holt "goblin" (from hold "friendly in a troublemaking way", which in turn came from PIE kel "to tend", after a brief stint in Proto-Germanic)
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.