Free Chemistry Dictionary

Video Example : Symbol of an atom

Symbol of an atom


  • chemical symbol
  • chemical code
  • isotope of an atom
  • superscripts or subscripts
  • appended superscripts
  • symbols for elements

Definition of Symbol of an atom

A chemical symbol is a 1-, 2-, or 3-letter internationally agreed code for a chemical element, usually derived from the name of the element, often in Latin.

More About Symbol of an atom

  • Only the first letter is capitalized. For example, "He" is the symbol for helium
  • The symbol of the atom lead is ‘Pb’ (Plumbum)
  • W" for tungsten (Wolfram in German)
  • Temporary symbols assigned to newly or not-yet synthesized elements use 3-letter symbols based on their atomic numbers
  • For example, "Uno" was the temporary symbol for hassium which had the temporary name of unniloctium and "Uuo" is the symbol for ununoctium (temporary name) with the atomic mass 118.
  • Chemical symbols may be modified by the use of prepended superscripts or subscripts to specify a particular isotope of an atom
  • Additionally, appended superscripts may be used to indicate the ionization or oxidation state of an element
  • They are widely used in chemistry and they have been officially chosen by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry
  • Dalton was the first scientist to use the symbols for elements
  • When Dalton used symbols for elements, he specified a particular quantity of that element, that is, one atom of that element
  • Many of the symbols are first one or two letters of the English name of that element
  • The first letter of the element is always written as a capital letter and the second letter is written as small letter
  • For example,
  • Symbol of hydrogen is ‘H’
  • Symbol of Aluminium “Al”
  • Symbol of cobalt is “Co”
  • Symbols of some elements are formed from first letter of that element and another letter after that
  • For example
  • Symbol of chlorine is “Cl”
  • Symbol of Zinc is “Zn”
  • Symbol of magnesium is “Mg”
  • Symbol of mercury is “Hg” (hydragerum, a Greek word)
  • Some symbols are taken from the names of elements in Latin, Greek or German words
  • Symbol of sodium is “Na” (Natrium)
  • Symbol of potassium is “K” (Kalium)
  • Symbol of iron is “Fe” (Ferrum)
  • Symbol of silver is “Ag”(Argentum)
  • Therefore, each element has a name and a unique chemical symbol