gold, silver, & bronze

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  • Gold is from the Proto-Indo-European *ghel-, meaning, variously, “yellow,” “bright,” “shining,” “green,” “blue,” and “gray”; derivatives include chlorine, clean, and the family of gl- words like glass and glance
  • From the Old English siolforsilver’s ultimate origin is unknown, perhaps from the Akkadian sarapu (to smelt)
  • Bronze may be from the Persian birinj (copper) and may be connected to the Latin aes Brundusinium, referring to bronze mirrors made in Brindisi, Italy
  • The Indo-European *arg- (bright, shining) is the origin of Romance words for “silver” (e.g., argent) and *aus– for “gold” (e.g., aureate)

In Ancient Greece, victorious Olympians were crowned with olive wreathes. Upon the Olympics’ reinstitution in 1896, winners were still greeted with this symbolic prize, but also with silver medals. It wasn’t until the 1904 Summer Olympics in St. Louis, Missouri, though, that the Games issued gold, silver, and…

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