Titanium was discovered in 1791 by William Gregor during his study of magnetic sand (menachanite) from Menachan in Cornwall. He called it "menachin".

Three years later, M. H. Klaproth discovered what he thought to be a new earth in the rutil. He called it "titanium" (from the Latin titans, which means "children of the Earth") and showed that it was identical to the "menachin" obtained by Gregor. The metal was first isolated by J. J. Berzelius in 1825. Hunter prepared pure titanium, in 1910, by heating up sodium and titanium tetrachloride.