Have you ever wondered why the thirteenth element is spelled aluminum in America but aluminium (extra i) England? It's not because Americans modified it to sound less British (as some would be inclined to think); quite the opposite, in fact. Aluminum was coined in 1812 by the British scientist Sir Humphrey Davy. This was readily accepted by the American populace, however British newspaper editors modified it to seem more in line with all the other elements. Ironically, the proper suffix is -en, because that's what it was in alumen, the word that inspired Humphrey's choice. It meant "bitter salt", and was probably extended to the substance name because of the ionic bonds Aluminum creates. Alumen possibly derives from a Proto-Indo-European root sounding like helud and meaning something along the lines of "bitter" as well.
Adam Aleksic is a 221-month-old, 2800-ounce high school senior with disturbing interests in etymology, vexillology, geography, board games, limericks, and law. Adam will be studying linguistics at Harvard University in the fall.
The Etymology Nerd