Mercury is a transition metal. A transition metal is one of the elements found between Groups 2 (IIA) and 13 (IIIA) on the periodic table. The periodic table is a chart that shows how chemical elements are related to one another. Mercury has long been known as quicksilver, because it is a silver liquid. The chemical symbol also reflects this property. The symbol, Hg, comes from the Latin term hydrargyrum, meaning "watery silver."Mercury has been known for thousands of years. In many cultures, people learned to make mercury metal from its most important ore, cinnabar. When heated cinnabar releases mercury as a vapor (gas). The vapor is cooled and captured as liquid mercury.SYMBOL
Group 12 (IIB)
MER-kyuh-reeSome mercury compounds are known to be poisonous. For example, mercuric chloride (corrosive sublimate) was often used to kill pests and, sometimes, people. On the other hand, some mercury compounds have been used as medicines. For instance, mercurous chloride (calomel) was long used as a cure for skin rashes. In the last forty years, the dangers of mercury have become better known. As a result, mercury use is now being phased out.