One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
An alloy of gold and copper commonly used in pre-Columbian South and Central America.
- ‘On heating tumbaga in air, a layer of copper oxide forms on the surface of the object.’
- ‘Many of the coppery-colored tumbaga castings were then gilded and burnished to restore their golden appearance.’
- ‘Because it is an alloy of gold and copper, tumbaga is lighter than gold.’
- ‘There is evidence suggesting the transfer of tumbaga took place, and at a later date possibly brass technology.’
- ‘To the eye, tumbaga plates would have had the appearance of pure gold.’
- ‘Many Spanish conquerors were fooled by depletion gilded tumbaga, believing it to be gold.’
1930s: from Spanish, from Malay tembaga ‘copper, brass’.
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