I am writing about unusual ferromagnetic materials. For the introduction I want to use the "namegiver" for ferromagnetism, iron, as an example but I am stuck finding the right word or expression.

  • In iron the namegiving element for ferromagnetism the Curie temperature...
  • In iron, which coined the term ferromagnetism the Curie temperature ...
  • In iron, from which the term ferromagnetism is derived, the Curie temperature ...

Is there an English word that expresses that iron, or to be more precise, its Latin counterpart "ferrum", gave its name to the phenomenon ferromagnetism?

  • If you were talking about "ferrum," you'd say it's the root word. In this case, I'd say something like "iron, which is the basis for the term 'ferromagnetism.'"
    – user32047
    Mar 31, 2013 at 21:07
  • Iron is the archetypal ferromagnetic material. Mar 31, 2013 at 22:47

2 Answers 2


Iron (ferrum) is the eponym¹ of ferromagnetism.

Many people would also say that ferrum and ferromagnetism are namesakes.² It might be insisted by some pedants that ferromagnetism is the namesake of ferrum, not the other way around, though the word’s etymology does not bear this up.


The term ferromagnetism derives its first element from the Latin word for iron, ferrum.

  • Yes. Exactly. The name does not come from the English word iron; rather, it uses a borrowed word. This is the norm in English. In exactly the opposite way, German translates elemental names like Hydrogen and Oxygen (Gk 'water source' and 'acid source') into Wasserstoff and Sauerstoff. Mar 31, 2013 at 20:49
  • @JohnLawler I presume you’ve read Poul Anderson’s Uncleftish Beholding then?
    – tchrist
    Mar 31, 2013 at 21:12
  • Oh, yes, many years ago. I've read most of Anderson. Have you read Barnes's English Speech-Craft? Mar 31, 2013 at 22:05

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