Bismuth is originally the German name for element 83. The name was originally wismuth or wismut, which is the current form in modern German. The “B” form makes its appearance in the works of 16th century mineralogist Georgius Agricola, who latinized the name as bisemutem. The word makes its English appearance in John Wilkins’s 1668 An Essay Towards a Real Character, and a Philosophical Language:

Imperfect kinds of Metal [...] used for Making of Pewter, being of shining brittle substance: Bismute, Tin-glass.1

The chemical symbol for bismuth is Bi.

1Oxford English Dictionary, bismuth, 2nd Edition, 1989, Oxford University Press, accessed 9 November 2009,

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