lith·​i·​um ˈli-thē-əm How to pronounce lithium (audio)
: a chemical element of the alkali metal group that is the lightest metal known and that is used especially in alloys and glass, in mechanical lubricants, and in storage batteries see Chemical Elements Table
: a salt of lithium (such as lithium carbonate) used in psychiatric medicine

Examples of lithium in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web That’s still a significant improvement over lithium iron phosphate batteries, whose density tops out at 160 Wh/kg. IEEE Spectrum, 18 June 2024 This system, called Mild Hybrid Zero Emission Hotel Mode, is based on a 42-kWh lithium battery pack and an alternator connected to one of the three engines. Sofia Celeste, WWD, 16 June 2024 Industry groups have said that new chemical regulations would impede the manufacture of lithium ion batteries and other products necessary to build electric vehicles and other clean energy technologies. Coral Davenport, New York Times, 5 June 2024 The lithium iron phosphate battery is designed to last up to 120 minutes, and can cover up to 1,300 square feet on a single charge. Alicia Geigel, Better Homes & Gardens, 3 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for lithium 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'lithium.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


borrowed from New Latin (in German context) Lithium, taken as the metallic component of the alkali Lithion, probably based on Greek litheîon, neuter of litheîos "of stone," derivative of líthos "stone, rock," of obscure origin

Note: The alkali was discovered and analyzed, apparently in late 1817, by the Swedish chemist Johan August Arfwedson (1792-1841), who at the time was working in the Stockholm laboratory of J.J. berzelius. Berzelius reported on the discovery and named the components in letters written to the editors of learned publications, as J. S. C. Schweiggers' Journal für Chemie und Physik. Schweiggers published the letter, dated January 27, 1818, as "Ein neues mineralisches Alkali und ein Neues Metall" ("a new mineral alkali and a new metal") in vol. 21 of the journal (pp. 44-48). According to Berzelius, "we have named it [the new alkali] Lithion, thereby alluding to its first discovery in the mineral kingdom, as the two others [the alkali metals sodium and potassium] were first discovered in organic substances [literally, "organic nature"]. Its radical will then be named Lithium." ("Wir haben es Lithion genannt, um dadurch auf seine erste Entdeckung im Mineralreich anzuspielen, da die beiden anderen erst in der organischen Natur entdeckt wurden. Sein Radical wird dann Lithium genannt werden.")

First Known Use

1818, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of lithium was in 1818

Dictionary Entries Near lithium

Cite this Entry

“Lithium.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


lith·​i·​um ˈlith-ē-əm How to pronounce lithium (audio)
: a soft silver-white element that is the lightest metal known see element

Medical Definition


lith·​i·​um ˈlith-ē-əm How to pronounce lithium (audio)
: a soft silver-white element of the alkali metal group that is the lightest metal known and that is used in chemical synthesis and in storage batteries
symbol Li
see Chemical Elements Table
: a lithium salt and especially lithium carbonate used in psychiatric medicine

More from Merriam-Webster on lithium

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