- a strong alcoholic liquor distilled from the fermented mash of grain, esp. of rye, wheat, corn, or barley
- a drink of whiskey
Origin of whiskeyshort for usquebaugh ; from Irish uisce beathadh (or Gaelic uisge beatha) ; from uisce, water + beathadh, life ; from Indo-European base an unverified form gwi-, an unverified form gwei-, to live from source bio-
nounpl. whis·keys also whis·kies
- An alcoholic liquor distilled from grain, such as corn, rye, or barley, and containing approximately 40 to 50 percent ethyl alcohol by volume.
- A drink of such liquor.
Origin of whiskeyShortening and alteration of usquebaugh. Word History: The words water, whiskey, and vodka flow from a common source, the Indo-European root *wed–, “water, wet.” This root could appear in several guises, as *wed–, *wod–, or *ud–. Water is a native English word that goes back by way of prehistoric Common Germanic *watar to the Indo-European suffixed form *wod-&omacron;r, with an o. Whiskey is a shortened form of usquebaugh, which English borrowed from Irish Gaelic uisce beatha and Scottish Gaelic uisge beatha. This compound descends from Old Irish uisce, “water,” and bethad, “of life,” meaning literally “water of life.” (It thus meant the same thing as the name of another drink, aquavit, which comes from Latin aqua v&imacron;tae, “water of life.”) Uisce comes from the Indo-European suffixed form *ud-skio–. Finally, the name of another alcoholic drink, vodka, comes into English from Russian, where it means literally “little water,” as it is a diminutive of voda, “water”—a euphemism if ever there was one. Voda comes from the same Indo-European form as English water, but has a different suffix: *wod-&amacron;.
- The letter W in the ICAO spelling alphabet.