alcohol[al′kə hôl′, -häl′]
A vodka martini contains alcohol.
Whiskey, vodka, rum and gin are each an example of alcohol.
- a colorless, volatile, pungent liquid, CHOH: it can be burned as fuel (10-15% of gasohol), is used in industry and medicine, and is the intoxicating element of whiskey, wine, beer, and other fermented or distilled liquors: classed as a depressant drugalso called ethyl alcohol
- any intoxicating liquor with this liquid in it
- the drinking of such liquors: alcohol was his downfall
- a class of organic compounds, including ethyl or methyl (wood) alcohol, that contain one or more hydroxyl groups (OH) and form esters in reactions with acids
Origin of alcoholMedieval Latin term used by Philippus Aureolus Paracelsus for fine powder, distilled spirit ; from Arabic alkuḥl, antimony powder, collyrium ; from al, the + kuḥl, kohl
- Any of a series of hydroxyl compounds, the simplest of which are derived from saturated hydrocarbons, have the general formula CnH2n+1OH, and include ethanol and methanol.
- A colorless volatile flammable liquid, C2H5OH, synthesized or obtained by fermentation of sugars and starches and widely used, either pure or denatured, as a solvent and in drugs, cleaning solutions, explosives, and intoxicating beverages. Also called ethanol, ethyl alcohol, grain alcohol.
- Intoxicating beverages containing ethanol considered as a group: the national consumption of alcohol.
Origin of alcoholMedieval Latin, fine metallic powder, especially of antimony, from Arabic al-ku&hlowdot;l : al-, the + ku&hlowdot;l, powder of antimony; see k&xlowdot;l in Semitic roots. Word History: The al– in alcohol may alert some readers to the fact that this is a word of Arabic descent, as is the case with algebra and alkali, al– being the Arabic definite article corresponding to the in English. The second part of the word, –cohol, comes from Arabic ku&hlowdot;l, the word for a fine powder (most often made from antimony) used as a cosmetic to darken the eyelids. In fact, ku&hlowdot;l has given us the word kohl for such a preparation. The Arabic phrase al-ku&hlowdot;, “the kohl,” was borrowed into Medieval Latin as one word, alcohol, “ko&hlowdot;l.” From Medieval Latin it was borrowed into English in the 16th century. In English, alcohol came to refer to any fine powder produced in a number of ways, as by heating a substance to a gaseous state and then cooling it. Alcohol could also be used to refer to essences obtained by distillation. One of these distilled essences produced by alchemists and early chemists, known as alcohol of wine, was the constituent of fermented liquors that causes intoxication, and the term alcohol came to refer to this essence (what modern chemists would call ethanol) in particular. Eventually, the liquors that contained this essence began to be called alcohol, too. In the terminology of modern chemistry, alcohol has also come to refer to the class of compounds to which ethanol belongs.
(countable and uncountable, plural alcohols)
From Middle English or Old French alcohol (modern French alcool), from Arabic الكحل (al-kuḥl, “kohl”) (by broadening). The etymology is conventionally given as الكحل (al-kuḥl), dating to 1672, and has been promulgated by such authorities as Webster's Third New International Dictionary, which traces it through Middle Latin and Old Spanish. It entered English (other European languages) by an alchemical term, by etymological broadening thence broadening to any distillates, thence narrowing to ethanol specifically.
- Bartholomew Traheron in his 1543 translation of John of Vigo introduces the word as a term used by "barbarous" (Moorish) authors for "fine powder": the barbarous auctours use alcohol, or (as I fynde it sometymes wryten) alcofoll, for moost fine poudre.
- William Johnson in his 1657 Lexicon Chymicum glosses the word as antimonium sive stibium. By extension, the word came to refer to any fluid obtained by distillation, including "alcohol of wine", the distilled essence of wine.
- Libavius in Alchymia (1594) has vini alcohol vel vinum alcalisatum.
- Johnson (1657) glosses alcohol vini as quando omnis superfluitas vini a vino separatur, ita ut accensum ardeat donec totum consumatur, nihilque fæcum aut phlegmatis in fundo remaneat.
The word's meaning became restricted to "spirit of wine" (ethanol) in the 18th century, and was again extended to the family of substances so called in modern chemistry from 1850.
According to Rachel Hajar, the classical Arabic term for alcohol is الغول (al-ḡūl) or غول (ḡūl), as used in Qur’an verse 37:47 (Arabic), there written غَوْلٌ and transmitted by mispronunciation.