Greek βαρύς (barys), meaning "heavy." Barium was identified as a new element in 1774, but not reduced to a metal until 1808 with the advent of electrolysis.
Barium has only a few industrial applications. The metal has been historically used as a getter for vacuum tubes. It is a component of YBCO (high-temperature superconductors) and electro ceramics, and is added to steel and cast iron to reduce the size of carbon grains within the microstructure of the metal. Barium compounds are added to fireworks to impart a green color. Barium sulfate is used as an insoluble heavy additive to oil well drilling fluid, as well as in a purer form, as X-ray radiocontrast agents for imaging the human gastrointestinal tract. Soluble barium compounds are poisonous due to release of the soluble barium ion, and therefore have been used as rodenticides.