The Five Elements
The English word "element" derives from a Greek term stoikheion meaning "step" or "component part," translated into Latin as "elementum." Ancient scholars and philosophers perceived four elements, later adding a fifth, as the irreducible components of the universe and all it contained. These were water, earth, fire, air, and ether (i.e. "space" or "void.") Since almost the dawn of time, various civilizations and different cultures have perceived the natural world in similar terms to these building blocks.