The electron is a subatomic particle with a negative elementary electric charge. Between 1838 and 1851, British natural philosopher Richard Laming developed the idea that an atom is composed of a core of matter surrounded by subatomic particles that had unit electric charges. Irish physicist George Johnstone Stoney initially coined the term electrolion in 1881. Ten years later, he switched to electron to describe these elementary charges, writing in 1894: "... an estimate was made of the actual amount of this most remarkable fundamental unit of electricity, for which I have since ventured to suggest the name electron". A 1906 proposal to change to electrion failed because Hendrik Lorentz preferred to keep electron.

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