I am aware that the lithium is a chemical element (a metal, more precisely), but I was wondering if it is commonly used as a metaphor in English language? Maybe to describe a situation or a sentiment or in some other way..?

What made me think about this is that two of the song that I like are named "Lithium" (by bands Nirvana and Evanescence), without any apparent connection to the literal meaning of the word.

I just want to point out that I am not asking the explanation of the lyrics of the songs, I am just wondering about the metaphorical usage of the word "lithium" that you are familiar with, since I couldn't find anything googling.

  • 5
    Lithium, as a chemical element, is a common antidepressant. So it is evocative of medications for psychiatric problems (its most likely poetic intention). But the word is not used metaphorically at all. No one says "That party was a lithium dose"... well they very well may, but it is not a common metaphor which 'crack' is for something that is ravenously desirable (eg "man, those sriracha chocolate potato chips are like crack! I can't stop eating them")
    – Mitch
    Apr 4, 2017 at 16:53
  • 4
    Lithium is not an antidepressant. It is a mood stabilizer sometimes used in conjunction with antidepressants to treat depression and BD. Its action is similiar to valproic acid, an anti-convulsant. Apr 4, 2017 at 19:30

2 Answers 2


Wikipedia has an article (Lithium(medication)) explaining that lithium salts are commomly used to treat major depressive illnesses.


The relatively late discovery of lithium in the early 19th century and its rather restricted applications would suggest that it is unlikely to have entered common usage until recently. I imagine most people nowadays associate it with lithium-ion batteries for their electronic devices.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.