Sorry to be the one to break this to you but people do actually use this word. There are several molybdenum mines still running in the U.S. I believe. My father worked in one many many moons ago, but as always that's another story.

As to the question of how to pronounce it you could choose the wrong but semi-witty one of "molly be damned" which is sort of a running joke in the movie The Apple dumpling Gang Rides Again. I can't remember at this moment exactly how they pose the joke but the basic idea is no one can pronounce it so everyone chooses the molly be damned version.

The other choice I can think of is the real and actually fairly simple pronunciation once you know it.

mu lib de num

all the vowels soft...

(So named (Latin molybdaena, "lead") in 1781 by K. W. Scheele after its isolation by P. J. Hjelm) A very hard, lustrous, silver-white metallic chemical element, used in alloys, points for spark plugs, etc.

Symbol: Mo
Atomic number: 42
Atomic weight: 95.94
Density (at room temperature and pressure): 10.2 g/cc
Melting point: 2,620°C
Boiling point: 4,600°C
Valence: +3, +6
Ground state electron configuration: [Kr]4d55s1

Symbol: Mo
Atomic Number: 42
Atomic Weight: 95.94
Boiling Point: 4912 K
Melting Point: 2896 K
Density at 300K: 10.22 g/cm3
Covalent radius: 1.30
Atomic radius: 2.01
Atomic volume: 9.40 cm3/mol
First ionization potental: 7.0999 V
Specific heat capacity: 0.25 Jg-1K-1
Thermal conductivity: 138 Wm-1K-1
Electrical conductivity: 17.3 106Ω-1m-1
Heat of fusion: 36 kJ/mol
Heat of vaporization: 590.4 kJ/mol
Electronegativity: 2.16 (Pauling's)

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Molybdenum is obtained commercially by milling mined ore and then roasting the liberated molybdenite in forced air and reduction the oxide formed with carbon in an electric furnace. Another method is by a thermite reduction of tech-oxide in the presence of iron in which you get ferromolybdenum. Molybdenum roasters are equipped to recover a by-product of this process, rhenium.

Some of its uses is to support filament in incandescent lamps as it has a high melting point. In heaters it is used for heating elements. It is also used in many alloy of steel. The addition of molybdenum adds strength, corrosion resistance, high melting temperature, hardenability, and weldability. In fact, after the demand in World War I for tungsten in alloy strained the supply of tungsten, molybdenum was used as a substitute for tungsten in alloy. Molybdenum has also been used for colorful pigment, and lubricity in extreme temperature and pressure conditions.

A unique property of molybendum and a fact that distinguishes it from other metals is that laboratory tests show that its compounds are low in toxicity.

Molybendum is unreactive, but it forms various covalent compounds, which are used as industrial catalyst.

It's also a trace element in plants and a catalyst in bacterial nitrogen fixation.

Check out the International Molybdenum Association website at

Mol`yb*de"num (?), n. [NL.: cf. F. molybdene. See Molybdena.] Chem.

A rare element of the chromium group, occurring in nature in the minerals molybdenite and wulfenite, and when reduced obtained as a hard, silver-white, difficulty fusible metal. Symbol Mo. Atomic weight 95.9.


© Webster 1913.

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