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Webster 1913 Edition


Alchemy

Al′che-my

,
Noun.
[OF.
alkemie
,
arquemie
, F.
alchimie
, Ar.
al-kīmīa
, fr. late Gr. [GREEK], for [GREEK], a mingling, infusion, [GREEK] juice, liquid, especially as extracted from plants, fr. [GREEK] to pour; for chemistry was originally the art of extracting the juices from plants for medicinal purposes. Cf. Sp.
alquimia
, It.
alchimia
. Gr. [GREEK] is prob. akin to L.
fundere
to pour, Goth.
guitan
, AS.
geótan
, to pour, and so to E.
fuse
. See
Fuse
, and cf.
Chemistry
.]
1.
An imaginary art which aimed to transmute the baser metals into gold, to find the panacea, or universal remedy for diseases, etc. It led the way to modern chemistry.
2.
A mixed metal composed mainly of brass, formerly used for various utensils; hence, a trumpet.
[Obs.]
Put to their mouths the sounding
alchemy
.
Milton.
3.
Miraculous power of transmuting something common into something precious.
Kissing with golden face the meadows green,
Gilding pale streams with heavenly
alchemy
.
Shakespeare

Definition 2021


alchemy

alchemy

English

Noun

alchemy (countable and uncountable, plural alchemies)

  1. (uncountable) The ancient search for a universal panacea, and of the philosopher's stone, that eventually developed into chemistry.
    • 2014 June 21, Magician’s brain”, in The Economist, volume 411, number 8892:
      The [Isaac] Newton that emerges from the [unpublished] manuscripts is far from the popular image of a rational practitioner of cold and pure reason. The architect of modern science was himself not very modern. He was obsessed with alchemy.
  2. (countable) The causing of any sort of mysterious sudden transmutation.
    • 2016, Boris Johnson
      There is such a rich thesaurus now of things that I have said that have been, one way or another, through what alchemy I do not know, somehow misconstrued, that it would really take me too long to engage in a full global itinerary of apology to all concerned.
  3. (computing, slang, countable) Any elaborate transformation process or algorithm.

Derived terms

Translations

See also

References

  • alchemy in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913
  • alchemy” in Douglas Harper, Online Etymology Dictionary (2001).