A correspondent has kindly pointed me to William Drenttel’s explanation (in his blog Design Observer) of the temporary names of newly discovered elements, based on the Latin names of the numbers (so that 111 is “unununium” until it is confirmed and permanently named). If you’ve been wondering about stories like “Uut, Uup add atomic mass to periodic table,” this will tell you all about it. As he says, “Oh, that our cereal aisle had brands named Uuu, Uub, Uut, Uuq, Uup, Uuh, Uus and Uuo.”


  1. Theophylact says

    Pataphysicians are eagerly awaiting the discovery of Element 121, Ubu.

  2. It is a happy coincidence that the names of the digits in Latin all start with different letters. Otherwise some confusion could arise.

  3. It’s actually a good mixture of Greek and Latin elements- for example they use -pent- for five rather than -quint-. As you can probably predict, this rather annoys me. On the other hand, as Mr. Osner points out in the preceding post, we need each element to start with a different letter, and that would not be possible if we went with only one language.

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