One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
The chemical element of atomic number 76, a hard, dense silvery-white metal of the transition series.
- ‘Along with osmium and platinum, iridium is one of the densest elements in the periodic table: two cubic feet of it weigh as much as a Buick.’
- ‘With the exception of two of the platinum-group metals, osmium and iridium, they have the highest melting temperatures and lowest vapor pressures of all metals.’
- ‘Scientists speculate that the asteroids would probably be very rich in minerals with a very high melting point, such as iron and nickel or rarer metals like tungsten, osmium, and zirconium.’
- ‘Other examples of relative isotopic dating are the deuterium variations in ice cores and the osmium isotope record of marine sediments.’
- ‘The addition of small amounts of osmium to these metals greatly increases their hardness.’
Early 19th century: modern Latin, from Greek osmē ‘smell’ (from the pungent smell of its tetroxide).
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