Calomel just might be the most beautiful word in the English language.
It's a chemical, mercury chloride, Hg2Cl2, which was used by alchemists and is therefore rather romantic.
Here it is as a mineral:
The stuff has been known in Iran since 850 AD, but it didn't make much of an impact in Europe until the 1600s.
It had even more of an impact in the 1800s, when it was decided that giving people large doses of calomel would be a help in curing syphilis, bronchitis, ingrowing toenails, tuberculosis, 'flu, cancer - and more or less everything else, including teething. In 1863 the American surgeon-general, William A Hammond, having noticed that the stuff was making people sicker than they were to start with, announced that calomel should no longer be used in the US Army. This caused a lot of controversy (calomel was still being used in the British Army during the First World War) and it also led to the sacking of poor Mr Hammond. Mr Hammond, though, was quite right to be alarmed. By that time calomel was being prescribed in huge amounts and the mercury in it was poisoning people and causing gangrene, tooth-loss, facial deformities, and brain damage.
Did the beauty of its name make people trust it? It does sound so very sweet and calm.
On a much happier note, calomel is now used in electrochemistry for measuring the pH and and electrical potential of solutions.
I'm not honestly sure why I might want to use this word.
But it might make a good name for a very gentle, beautiful and deadly witch.
Word To Use Today: calomel. This word comes from the Greek kalos, beautiful, and melas, which means black. This might be either because it turns black when you expose it to ammonia, or because you can make the stuff from a black mixture of mercury and mercuric chloride.