Discovered in 1885 along with praseodymium, neodymium is named from the Greek neos + didymos (new twin). The silvery-white metal oxidizes easily in air and reacts with water, displacing hydrogen gas. Although another of the "rare" earth metals, neodymium is actually more abundant than many better known metals such as gold, silver, tin and lead.
Misch metal, used in lighter flints, is about 18% neodymium. The element is also used in the manufacture of artificial rubies for laser applications.
Stephen R. Marsden (ChemTopics)