January 24

lead entry in periodic table Photo Credit: Clipart.com

Science Fact

Get the Lead Out

Do you know why the element lead's chemical abbreviation is Pb? Hint: It has to do with plumbers.

The Latin word for "lead" was "plumbum." (The English word evolved in a more roundabout way.) The word "plumber" originally meant "a person who generically works with lead," but as indoor sanitation became more common in the 19th century, most people working with lead pipe were those setting it up. Thus a plumber became more specifically "a workman who installs lead pipes and fittings."

The words "plumb," "plummet," "aplomb," and "plunge" also arise out of their relation to the word for lead and how that word became connected to those pipe-fitters.

Learn more about the other elements that appear on the periodic table with these Science NetLinks resources:

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