Selenium, element 34, was discovered and named by Swedish chemist Jöns Jakob Berzelius in 1817. He formed the name from the Greek word σελήνη (selene, meaning moon) because the element had chemical properties similar to tellurium, which is named for the earth. A translation of Berzelius’s work in which he explains his choice appears in the 1818 Annals of Philosophy:

The analogy of tellurium has induced me to give it the name of selenium.1

Selenium has the chemical symbol Se.

1Oxford English Dictionary, selenium, 2nd Edition, 1989, Oxford University Press, accessed 19 September 2009,

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