General English

General Science

  • noun a metallic element extracted from the ore bauxite
  • chemical symbolAl
    (written as Aluminium)



  • noun a metal which is frequently traded on commodity exchanges such as the London Metal Exchange

Cars & Driving

  • noun a silvery lightweight metallic element resistant to corrosion.


  • An extremely thin aluminium foil, which may be used as food decoration. It has no nutritional value and may be harmful.


  • synonymaluminum

Information & Library Science

Origin & History of “aluminium”

(19th c.) Aluminium comes from a coinage by the English chemist Sir Humphry Davy, who discovered the metal. His first suggestion was alumium, which he put forward in volume 98 of the Transactions of the royal Society 1808: ‘Had I been so fortunate as … to have procured the metallic substances I was in search of, I should have proposed for them the names of silicium, alumium, zirconium, and glucium’. He based it on Latin alūmen ‘alum’ (alum is a sulphate of aluminium, and the word alum, a 14th-century borrowing from French, derives ultimately from alūmen; alumina is an oxide of aluminium, and the word alumina is a modern Latin formation based on alūmen, which entered English at the end of the 18th century); and alūmen may be linked with Latin alūta ‘skins dried for making leather, using alum’.

Davy soon changed his mind, however, and in 1812 put forward the term aluminum – which remains the word used in American English to this day. British English, though, has preferred the form aluminium, which was mooted contemporaneously with aluminum on grounds of classical ‘correctness’: ‘Aluminium, for so we shall take the liberty of writing the word, in preference to aluminum, which has a less classical sound’, Quarterly Review 1812.