Aluminium Or Aluminum: Is There A Correct Choice?

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Quick summary

In American English, aluminum is the term used for the element with the atomic number 13. In British English, the term aluminium is used. Both terms are accepted by the scientific community.

Is the element with atomic number 13 called aluminum or aluminium? Why does one element have two names? In this article, we’ll look at how two different names came to refer to the same element.

Is it aluminium or aluminum?

The metallic element with the atomic number 13 is used in a wide variety of everyday objects, such as in cans, kitchen utensils, and foil to wrap food. In American English, this element is called aluminum, while in British English it’s more commonly referred to as aluminium. The two names refer to the same chemical element. In scientific writing and academia, both aluminum and aluminium are commonly used and considered correct names. 

The term aluminum was created by the man who first identified the existence of the element, British chemist Humphry Davy. Davy originally referred to the element as alumium but ultimately altered the name to aluminum

The term aluminium emerged around the same time as Davy’s aluminum. This term seems to have been motivated by a desire to give the element a name that sounded more like classical Latin, which was in line with other known elements at the time whose names ended in –ium, such as magnesium and calcium

For the rest of the 1800s, both aluminum and aluminium were commonly used to refer to the element. Beginning in the 1900s, preferences for each term began to split among users. Aluminum became the more popular name in American English, and aluminium became the more popular name in British English. These preferences are still common today, but most chemistry organizations recognize both terms as acceptable.

The periodic table isn't the only place you'll see British and American English differ in spelling.

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