Element Symbols List

Abbreviations for the Chemical Elements

Element symbols
STEVE HORRELL/SPL/Getty Images

It's easier to navigate the periodic table and write chemical equations and formulae once you know the symbols for the elements. However, sometimes it's easy to confuse symbols of elements with similar names. Other elements have symbols that don't seem to relate to their names at all! For these elements, the symbol usually refers to an older element name that isn't used anymore.

History of the Abbreviations

In fact, there are eleven of the abbreviations for the elements which don't seem to match the modern name. Those are subtle reminders of the history of the Periodic Table and the process of the discovery of elements over the millennia. Eight of these oddities are Au (gold), Ag (silver), Cu (copper), FE (iron), SN (tin), Pb (lead), Sb (antimony), and Hg (mercury): All were among the elements recognized by the ancient Greeks and Romans, and the abbreviations for those are based on a Latin or Greek term for the element. 

Potassium was identified during the Middle Ages, and it's "K" is for kalium, a medieval Latin term for potash. W stands for tungsten because it was first identified in 1780 within the mineral known as wolframite, by French scientist Antoine Lavoisier (1743–1794). And finally, sodium gets an Na because it was first isolated by the English chemist Humphry Davy (1778–1829) in 1807 and he was referring to natron, an Arabic word for the salt used by the Egyptians to mummify people.

Element Symbols and Names

Below is an alphabetical list of element symbols with the corresponding element name. Keep in mind that the names for the elements (and their symbols) may be different in languages other than English.

Ac Actinium

Ag Silver (argentum in Latin)

Al Aluminum

Am Americium

Ar Argon

As Arsenic

At Astatine

Au Gold (aurum in Latin)

B Boron

Ba Barium

Be Beryllium

Bh Bohrium

Bi Bismuth

Bk Berkelium

Br Bromine

C Carbon

Ca Calcium

Cd Cadmium

Ce Cerium

Cf Californium

Cl Chlorine

Cm Curium

Cn Copernicium

Co Cobalt

Cr Chromium

Cs Cesium

Cu Copper (cuprum in Latin)

Db Dubnium

Ds Darmstadtium

Dy Dysprosium

Er Erbium

Es Einsteinium

Eu Europium

F Fluorine

Fe Iron (ferrum in Latin)

Fl Flerovium

Fm Fermium

Fr Francium

Ga Gallium

Gd Gadolinium

Ge Germanium

H Hydrogen

He Helium

Hf Hafnium

Hg Mercury (hydrargyrum in Greek)

Ho Holmium

Hs Hassium

I Iodine

In Indium

Ir Iridium

K Potassium (kalium in Medieval Latin)

Kr Krypton

La Lanthanum

Li Lithium

Lr Lawrencium

Lu Lutetium

Lv Livermorium

Mc Moscovium

Md Mendelevium

Mg Magnesium

Mn Manganese

Mo Molybdenum

Mt Meitnerium

N Nitrogen

Na Sodium (natrium in Latin, and natron in Arabic)

Nb Niobium

Nd Neodymium

Ne Neon

Nh Nihonium

Ni Nickel

No Nobelium

Np Neptunium

O Oxygen

Og Oganesson

Os Osmium

P Phosphorus

Pa Protactinium

Pb Lead (plumbum in Latin)

Pd Palladium

Pm Promethium

Po Polonium

Pr Praseodymium

Pt Platinum

Pu Plutonium

Ra Radium

Rb Rubidium

Re Rhenium

Rf Rutherfordium

Rg Roentgenium

Rh Rhodium

Rn Radon

Ru Ruthenium

S Sulfur

Sb Antimony (stibium in Latin)

Sc Scandium

Se Selenium

Sg Seaborgium

Si Silicon

Sm Samarium

Sn Tin

Sr Strontium

Ta Tantalum

Tb Terbium

Tc Technetium

Te Tellurium

Th Thorium

Ti Titanium

Tl Thallium

Tm Thulium

Ts Tennnessine

U Uranium

V Vanadium

W Tungsten (wolframite)

Xe Xenon

Y Yttrium

Yb Ytterbium

Zn Zinc

Zr Zirconium

Sources