A liquor or brew containing alcohol as the active agent
"Alcohol (or drink) ruined him"
(2) Any of a series of volatile hydroxyl compounds that are made from hydrocarbons by distillation
From or from (by broadening). 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.
The Arab etymology is fraught: the classical Arabic term for alcohol is
, as used in
Qur’an verse 37:47
(Arabic), there written ,
It entered English (and other European languages) by an alchemical term, by etymological broadening: the etymology is conventionally given as , 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, thence broadening to any distillates, thence narrowing to ethanol specifically.
- Any of a class of organic compounds (such as ethanol) containing a hydroxyl functional group (-OH).
- An intoxicating beverage made by the fermentation of sugar or sugar-containing material.