er·​bi·​um ˈər-bē-əm How to pronounce erbium (audio)
: a metallic chemical element of the rare-earth group with atomic number 68 that is used especially in lasers, infrared light filters, and optical fibers see Chemical Elements Table

Keep scrolling for more

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Those nanoparticles contain two rare-earth elements, erbium and ytterbium, which help convert the infrared light into a higher energy green light that mammal eyes can detect. Courtney Linder, Popular Mechanics, 27 Aug. 2019 The beam excites the erbium atoms, which then add their energy to optical data signals passing through the fiber and boost the signals' power enough to carry them 50 miles or more before needing another boost. Josh Mchugh, WIRED, 1 Aug. 2001

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

Keep scrolling for more

Word History


New Latin, from Ytterby, Sweden

First Known Use

1843, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of erbium was in 1843

Dictionary Entries Near erbium

Cite this Entry

“Erbium.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 2022.

Keep scrolling for more

Keep scrolling for more

Medical Definition



er·​bi·​um ˈər-bē-əm How to pronounce erbium (audio)
: a metallic element of the rare-earth group that occurs with yttrium
symbol Er
see Chemical Elements Table

More from Merriam-Webster on erbium

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

Odd Habits and Quirks

  • image1926873504
  • Which of the following best describes an easily irritated person?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.