any of a number of metals, as gold, silver, mercury, or platinum, that resist oxidation when heated in air, and solution by inorganic acids.
Lexical Investigations: Noble
When it comes to the word noble, the senses “royal” and “distinguished” are probably quite familiar, but there are many other uses of this word that might surprise you. Just as a noble person of virtue can resist manipulation, since the 14th century, stones and metals that resist corrosion are also said to be noble. Noble in this sense came to be synonymous with nonreactive. …
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Origin of noble metal
1350–1400; Middle English: precious metal
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019