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Why does ferrous mean 'containing iron'?

Updated on September 13, 2010

Ferrous is a word that is generally used in words that describe objects that contain iron.

The word ferrous originates with the Latin word for iron, Ferrum.

Similar words to ferrous that also mean containing iron include: Ferric.

Fe is the shortened version used in the periodic table.

There are four main general groups of metal:

  • Base metal - such as lead, nickel, zink and copper. This group corrodes easily.
  • Ferrous Metal - such as steel or wrought iron. This group is entirely made of iron and is often magnetic.
  • Noble Metal - Such as tantalum, rhodium. This group is highly resistant to corrosion.
  • Precious Metal - Such as gold, platinum and palladium. This group has a high monetary value.

An example of a piece of raw iron ore.
An example of a piece of raw iron ore.

What is Iron?

Iron is a metal that has been widely used by man for centuries. It is never present in pure form but is found in other rock types. It is then melted down and easily worked into new shapes.

Throughout history iron has been regularly used for a wide variety of weapons and tools, since it is one of the easiest metals to work with.

Iron is an important part of the human diet and can be found in a range of fresh food.

Iron ore photo by Hgrobe on wikimedia commons.


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