Rare Earth Discovery and Early History

Rare earth elements became known to the world with the discovery of the black mineral ytterbite (also known as gadolinite) by Lieutenant Carl Axel Arrhenius in the year 1787, in a quarry in the village of Ytterby, Sweden. Many of the rare earth are named for the scientists who discovered or elucidated the elemental properties, or for their geographical discovery, or for Latin or Greek references, or for mythical references:

  Symbol Name?? Etymology?? Selected Usages??
57 La Lanthanum from the Greek "lanthanon," meaning I am hidden.  
58 Ce Cerium for the Roman deity of fertility Ceres.  
59 Pr Praseodymium from the Greek "praso," meaning leek-green, and "didymos," meaning twin.  
60 Nd Neodymium from the Greek "neo," meaning new-one, and "didymos," meaning twin. Neodymium magnets
61 Pm Promethium for the Titan Prometheus, who brought fire to mortals.  
62 Sm Samarium for Vasili Samarsky-Bykhovets, who discovered the rare earth ore samarskite.  
63 Eu Europium for the continent of Europe.  
64 Gd Gadolinium for Johan Gadolin (1760-1852), to honor his investigation of rare earths.  
65 Tb Terbium for the village of Ytterby, Sweden, where the first rare earth ore was discovered.  
66 Dy Dysprosium from the Greek "dysprositos," meaning hard to get.  
67 Ho Holmium for Stockholm (in Latin, "Holmia"), native city of one of its discoverers.  
68 Er Erbium for the village of Ytterby, Sweden.  
69 Tm Thulium for the mythological land of Thule.  
70 Yb Ytterbium for the village of Ytterby, Sweden.  
71 Lu Lutetium for Lutetia, the city which later became Paris.  
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