“Mourning Becomes Electra”*

*1931 play cycle written by American playwright Eugene O’Neill. The story is a retelling of the Oresteia, by Aeschylus.

From Wikipedia:

“Elektra is a female given name. Its Greek origin ( Ἠλέκτρα, Ēlektra) means “amber”, and thus “shining”, “incandescent”. Names with similar meanings are Lucy and Svetlana. Variants are Ela, Elka, Elke, Elek, Elektrine.

The New Latin adjective electricus, originally meaning ‘of amber’, was first used to refer to amber’s attractive properties by William Gilbert in his 1600 text De Magnete. The term came from the classical Latin electrum, amber, from the Greek ἤλεκτρον (elektron), amber. The origin of the Greek word is unknown, but there is speculation that it might have come from a Phoenician word elēkrŏn, meaning ‘shining light’.

The word electric was first used by Francis Bacon to describe materials like amber that attracted other objects. The first usage of the English word electricity is ascribed to Sir Thomas Browne in his 1646 work, Pseudodoxia Epidemica:

Again, The concretion of Ice will not endure a dry attrition without liquation; for if it be rubbed long with a cloth, it melteth. But Crystal will calefie unto electricity; that is, a power to attract strawes and light bodies, and convert the needle freely placed

Pseudodoxia Epidemica, 1st edition, p. 51

In this context, an “Electrick” or “Electrick body” was a non-conductor, or an object capable of attracting “light bodies” (like bits of paper) when excited by friction; a piece of amber is “an Electrick”, while a piece of iron is not. “Electricity”, then, was simply the property of behaving like an electric, in the same way that “elasticity” is the property of behaving like an elastic. (“Electric” continued to be used as a noun until at least 1913 and is still used in this sense in the word “dielectric”.)

It was not until later that the definition shifted to refer to the cause of the attraction instead of the property of being attractive.

Charge, in the electrical sense, was first used in 1767.

The term quantity of electricity was once common in scientific publications. It appears frequently in the writings of Franklin, Faraday, Maxwell, Millikan, and J. J. Thomson, and was even occasionally used by Einstein.”

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