Elementymology & Elements Multidict
Zwavel – Schwefel – Soufre – Azufre – 硫黄 – Сера – 硫
Svávul, Brennisteinur Faroese
Swevel Frisian (West)
Sulf Romanian - Moldovan
SlavicСяра [Sjara] Bulgarian
Сера [sera] Belarusian
Сулфур [Sulfur] Macedonian
Сера [Sera] Russian
Сумпор [Sumpor] Serbian
Сірка [sirka] Ukrainian
CelticSulfur, Soufr Breton
Sulfar, ²Grumastal (Grunnastal, Ruibh) Gaelic (Irish)
Sulfar Gaelic (Scottish)
Sulfur Gaelic (Manx)
Other Indo-EuropeanΘειο [theio] Greek
Ծծումբ [tstsumb] Armenian
Sulfur, ²Squfuri Albanian
Сондон [sondon] Ossetian
Сулфур [Sulfur] Tajik
Indo-Iranian/Indo-Aryanসালফার [sālaphāra] Bengali
گوگرد [gwgrd] Persian
સલ્ફરનો [salpharano] Gujarati
गन्धक [gandhaka] Hindi
Тэг [Tèg] Komi
Киш [Kiš] Mari
Кандур [kandur] Moksha
Кӳкĕрт [Kükĕrt] Chuvash
Күкірт [kükirt] Kazakh
-- [--] Kyrgyz
Хүхэр [hühèr] Mongolian
گۈڭگۈرت [günggürt] Uyghur
Other (Europe)Sufrea Basque
გოგირდი [gogirdi] Georgian
Afro-Asiaticكبريت [kibrīt] Arabic
גופרית [gofrit] Hebrew
Kubrit, ²Żolfu Maltese
硫黄 [iou] Japanese
황 [hwang] Korean
กำมะถัน [kammathan] Thai
Lưu huỳnh Vietnamese
硫 [liu2 / lau4] Chinese
Sulfur, ²Belerang Malay
Other Asiaticഗന്ധകം [gandhakam] Malayalam
கந்தகம் [kantakam] Tamil
Sulfuri, ²Kibiriti Swahili
South-AmericaSalina, ²Salliy Quechua
CreoleSulfimi Sranan Tongo
New namesSulfuron Atomic Elements
History & Etymology
Sulphur occurs naturally in large quantities, either combined as in the sulphides (as pyrites) and sulphates (as gypsum), or native in volcanic regions, in vast beds mixed with gypsum and various earthy materials. It was already known in Antiquity. The popular names was brimstone, meaning literally "burning stone"; (cf. the Icelandic name).
"οισε θέειον, γρηϋ, κακων ακος, οισε δε μοι πυρ,
οφρα θεεωσω μεγαρον!..."
"and Ulysses said to the dear old nurse Euryclea,
The Greek physician and pharmacologist Pedanius Dioscorides (c. 40-90 AD) describes its application in medicine. Pliny the Elder (Roman) described Italian and Sicilian deposits and medicinal uses, bleaching cloth with Sulphur vapors, and manufacture of Sulphur matches and lamp-wicks.
Sulphur was well known to the alchemists, free and as sulphuric acid (Oil of Vitriol, H2SO4). Abu Musa Jabir ibn Hayyan ("Geber", c. 721-c. 815), known as the "father of Arab chemistry", suggested that metals were compounds of Sulphur and Mercury. This made Mercury and Sulphur more important substances to alchemists than other materials. Translations of his work were very popular in medieval Europe. Georgius Agricola (Georg Bauer, of Chemnitz, 1494-1555), in his De re metallica (1556), described matches ignited by friction on stone and the use of Sulphur in the manufacture of gunpowder.
In 1772 Antoine Lavoisier proved that Sulphur is an elementary substance.
Sulphur was known in antiquity. In Latin, it was called sulpur, and in Greek, Θειο. It was considered the embodiment of fire, and related to lightning. The Greek name, indeed, also means "divinity" and was derived from Θεος, which referred to Zeus, who is often shown with a handful of lightning bolts. In Christian mythology, it is the fuel of Hell. A "p" in Latin was used to represent φ in words borrowed from Greek in the times when it was pronounced with a puff of air, but was not yet the "f" sound. Later, when the "f" sound was used, the "p" often changed to "ph" in Latin words of Greek origin. Although "sulpur" had no Greek roots (it is derived from the Sanscrite sulvere), it was attracted into the form "sulphur" in late classical Latin. The spelling was altered in medieval times to "sulfur," which is the spelling that usually appears in Latin dictionaries. The English word is taken directly from Latin, traditionally in the form "sulphur." The American Chemical Society, at a time when spelling simplification was in vogue, decreed that "sulfur" was to be the accepted form in the United States. Although resisted by technical users, this form is now general in the United States, though sulphur is still occasionally seen. In the rest of the world, it is still sulphur (Calvert 2002).
The Old Saxon sweval, Old English swefel, Old High German swebal, Gothic swibls are difficult to separate from the Latin sulphur. Maybe there was a Germanic basic from *swelhla which was combined with the Indo-Germanic root *swel (which has to do with smoke, burn slowly).
SULPHUR, in fumes,the typical Air of Hell,
Call'd Brimstone, a yellow solid Metalloid,
Is very brittle. If heated in Glass retort
Out of contact with Air, it distils unaltered.