Chemical symbol

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A chemical symbol is an abbreviation or shortened version of the name of a chemical element, generally assigned in relation to its Latin name. Natural elements all have symbols of one or two letters; some man-made elements have temporary symbols of three letters.

Chemical symbols are listed in the periodic table and are used as shorthand and in chemical equations, e.g.,

2H2 + O2 → 2H2O

Because chemical symbols are often derived from the Latin or Greek name of the element, they may not bear much similarity to the common English name, e.g., Na for sodium (Latin natrium) and Au for gold (Latin aurum).

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