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Etymology edit

In the sense of tin, calque of Latin plumbum album (tin, literally white lead) already used before our era, as well as plumbum candidum (tin, literally white-shining lead) and Arabic رَصَاص أَبْيَض(raṣāṣ ʔabyaḍ, tin, literally white lead), distinguished from plumbum nigrum (lead, literally black lead) / رَصَاص أَسْوَد(raṣāṣ ʔaswad, lead, literally black lead), as tin and lead were improperly distinguished before modernity.

Noun edit

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white lead (uncountable)

  1. (obsolete) tin, golden marcasite
    • 1671, John Webster, Metallographia: Or, an history of metals., London, page 271:
      It is not amiſs here to give the differences betwixt white Lead, or Tin, Biſmuth, Tin-glaſs, or aſh-coloured Lead, and this common Lead, which they call black Lead;
  2. A basic lead carbonate formerly widely used for a white pigment in paint.
    Synonyms: lead white, flake white, silver white, slate white, Berlin white, Cremnitz white/Kremnitz white, Crems white/Krems white, Nottingham white, Vienna white
    • 1938, Norman Lindsay, Age of Consent, 1st Australian edition, Sydney, N.S.W.: Ure Smith, published 1962, →OCLC, page 40:
      The beginning of a new episode of work for Bradly was an agitated niggling over six-by-four squares of cardboard coated with size and white lead, prepared by himself to save an experimental waste of canvas.

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