19th century, short for Spiritus, probably of dialectal origin, though some assume influence by French esprit. Ultimately from Latin spiritus (“spirit”). The original meaning is “brandy”, later extended to petrol, perhaps from the idea of a “potent liquid”. This sense is now predominant and also widely used in media parlance, such that contemporary speakers may actually think it the original one.
Sprit m (genitive Sprits, no plural)
- (informal) petrol, gas (gasoline)
- (slang or colloquial) brandy, spirits, or (loosely) booze, any alcoholic drink