Is aluminum and aluminium the same thing?
- Author Bob Davis
- Published July 19, 2022
- Word count 563
Picture this, you’re dreaming that you’re a Canadian kid in a spelling bee contest that for some odd reason is happening in the UK. It’s down to you and one other contestant. The word is “aluminum.” “No biggie” you think as you start to spell the word, until the judge looks at you with a raised eyebrow. “I’m sorry, that’s wrong.
You’re so confused and flustered that you spell it wrong and lose the spelling bee while everyone cheers for the other kid. You keep thinking back to all the lunches mom wrapped your sandwiches in tinfoil. You’re sure that it’s aluminum. Are you going crazy? Is this possible? You thought you had this one in the bag? So what gives? You wake up in a cold sweat, realizing that it was just a dream. But it got you thinking, why do the British spell aluminum as aluminium?
Have you ever been watching a movie or reading a book set in the United Kingdom and noticed that the characters refer to aluminum as “aluminium?” Well, there’s a reason for that.
It turns out that aluminum is actually spelled aluminium in many parts of the world, including the UK. So why do British people spell it this way?
Well, it all has to do with the element’s history. Aluminum was first discovered in 1808 by British chemist Sir Humphry Davy, who named it after alumina, the compound it was found in.
However, the spelling of aluminum began to change in the early 20th century thanks to American chemist and metallurgist Charles Martin Hall and German chemist Friedrich Wöhler who are both credited with independently discovering a way to extract aluminum from alumina.
While Hall used the -um ending that Davy had originally used, Wöhler went with the -ium ending that is used for most other elements. This is the spelling that caught on in Europe while aluminum became the standard in the United States.
Is aluminum and aluminium the same thing?
Yes, aluminum and aluminium are actually the same element. The only difference is in the spelling. In North America, it is typically spelled aluminum, while in other parts of the world, including the UK, it is spelled aluminium.
So if you see aluminium in a British publication, don’t be alarmed — it’s just their correct spelling!
How do you pronounce aluminum?
The word aluminum is pronounced ah-LOO-min-um.
How do you pronounce aluminium?
The word aluminium is pronounced ah-LOO-min-ee-um.
Is it aluminum or aluminium on the periodic table?
The periodic table of elements actually lists the element as aluminum. However, as mentioned above, in many parts of the world it is spelled aluminium. So if you see aluminium on a periodic table outside of North America, don’t worry — they’re just using their correct spelling!
So there you have it, the answers to your hypothetical nightmare of a failed spelling bee contest. Now you can go back to dreaming about winning that trophy (and maybe getting your sandwich wrapped in tinfoil).
We exist to provide clarity in this debate. We’re here for you because we care. Now go out there and proudly spell aluminum without fear of facing the wrath of the British spelling authorities. Also, if you have any questions regarding Aluminum, please do not hesitate to contact us.
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