co·​balt | \ ˈkō-ˌbȯlt How to pronounce cobalt (audio) \

Definition of cobalt

1 : a magnetic metallic element that is used especially in alloys, in batteries, and as a pigment in paint and glass — see Chemical Elements Table

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The metallic element "cobalt" ultimately draws its name from folklore. In Middle High German, "kobolt" denoted a usually helpful household elf that engaged in nasty pranks only when it was offended. Later, early Modern German Kobold came to refer to a variety of less helpful goblins inhabiting fields and mountains. The variant "Kobolt" in the 16th century was applied by German miners to ores containing the metal cobalt, which they considered to be worthless; they believed that mountain goblins had spoiled adjacent silver ores, or had stolen the silver within the ore. The metal itself in relatively pure form was not produced and described until the 17th century, when "cobalt," with its first letter influenced by New Latin cobaltum, became part of the international language of science.

Examples of cobalt in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The batteries that power electric vehicles require prodigious amounts of mined minerals — lithium, cobalt, copper, nickel, graphite and the like. Russ Mitchell, Los Angeles Times, 22 Sep. 2022 The zone is between 12,000 and 18,000 feet deep and is still not fully explored, but scientists have found polymetallic nodules that are millions of years old on the ocean floor and contain nickel, cobalt, copper and manganese. ABC News, 21 Sep. 2022 Because of that, these packs are much bigger than those found in traditional cars and require a lot more lithium, cobalt, nickel and graphite. Bryan Hood, Robb Report, 19 Sep. 2022 On the former, building green machines (EVs, windmills, solar) requires an unprecedented 400% to 8,000% increase in the global supply of a dozen minerals, including nickel, copper, cobalt, lithium and rare earths. Mark P. Mills, WSJ, 9 Sep. 2022 But recent research has indicated that coal waste also contains critical minerals and materials, including cobalt, manganese, and lithium, and rare-earth elements, such as neodymium. Eliza Griswold, The New Yorker, 26 Aug. 2022 Volkswagen has sealed an agreement with Canada to secure access to raw materials such as nickel, cobalt, and lithium for vehicle and battery production, according to people familiar with the accord., 22 Aug. 2022 Top sub-sectors were appliances such as TVs, washers and dryers, and wind stocks, while cobalt, natural gas, and biotech were among the worst. Brendan Ahern, Forbes, 17 Aug. 2022 The conflict has roiled commodities markets–including nickel, cobalt, titanium, and rare earth metals used in electric car batteries. Dakin Sloss, Fortune, 28 June 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cobalt.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of cobalt

circa 1872, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cobalt

German Kobalt, alteration of Kobold, literally, goblin, from Middle High German kobolt; from its occurrence in silver ore, believed to be due to goblins

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The first known use of cobalt was circa 1872

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Last Updated

3 Oct 2022

Cite this Entry

“Cobalt.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for cobalt


co·​balt | \ ˈkō-ˌbȯlt How to pronounce cobalt (audio) \

Kids Definition of cobalt

: a tough shiny silvery white metallic chemical element found with iron and nickel


co·​balt | \ ˈkō-ˌbȯlt How to pronounce cobalt (audio) \

Medical Definition of cobalt

: a tough lustrous silver-white magnetic metallic element that is related to and occurs with iron and nickel and is used especially in alloys symbol Co — see Chemical Elements Table

More from Merriam-Webster on cobalt

Nglish: Translation of cobalt for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cobalt for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about cobalt


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