The earliest known example of galvanized iron was encountered by Europeans on 17th-century Indian armor in the Royal Armouries Museum collection. It was named in English via French from the name ofItalian scientist Luigi Galvani. Originally in the 19th century, the term "galvanizing" was used to describe the administration of electric shocks; this was also called Faradism. This usage is the origin of the metaphorical use of the verb "galvanize", such as to "galvanize into action" meaning stimulating a complacent person or group to take action.
In modern usage, the term "galvanizing" has largely come to be associated with zinc coatings, to the exclusion of other metals. Galvanic paint, a precursor to hot-dip galvanizing, was patented byStanislas Sorel, of Paris, in December 1837.