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Etymology of alcohol[edit]

See also: Wikipedia talk on Etymology
Nils von Barth (nbarth) (talk) 20:13, 31 December 2008 (UTC)

I have some doubts about the etymology. Alcohol refers to that chemical substance contained in drinks and perfumes among other uses. I think alcohol actually comes from Arabic: al ghoul ghoul and ghaal from Arabic means to take away or to cover something, Arabs used the term to refer to alcoholic beverages as well as to describe the mind altering affect of alcohol because it takes away or covers the mind.

have a look at the Quran surah number 37 (AL Saffat) verse numbers 45 - 47

45. There will be a round of a flowing drink cup before their eyes.
46. White coloured, delicious to those who drink.
47. Wherein neither there is intoxication and nor their heads will become giddy wherewith. 

God is describing heaven and that one of its bounties is that there will be abundant drink that does not "intoxicate" and in another translation "causes headiness". the arabic word used for it is ghoul.

how alcohol came about from ghoul? it was probably a pronunciation problem because English doesn't have the Arabic letter "ghaa" and when the Arabic word "al ghoul" is spoken by an English speaker it would come out as al goohl or alcohol. Which is not powder of Antimony (Arabic al kuhl).

- —This unsigned comment was added by (talk).

the current Arabic word for alcohol which is al kuhool is actually re-introduced from the west from the original al ghoul.

The source of the English word alcohol comes from the Arabic word al ghoul not from the current Arabic word al kuhool which is actually a semi modern introduction from the English alcohol which in turn was modified from the original Arabic word al ghoul.

Edit: i found that this is already mentioned in the wiki of alcohol

- —This unsigned comment was added by (talk).

We use the standard etymology, not POV revisionism. Robert Ullmann 15:22, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

If by "standard etymology" you mean the one printed in most if not all English dictionaries since their beginning then please remember that the one who put it is only human and i can see how easily it is to mix up alcohol with al kuhl since they have very similar pronunciation.

This is not POV revisionism, I'm giving you a case and explaining and giving evidence, dictionary entries are not beyond revision and change. words can be deformed while passing from one language to another due to different pronunciations and letters.

Take the Spanish alforno for example, it came from Arabic al furn, yet Spanish has added the o at the end due to their language specifics. there are a lot of examples and between many different languages, i can't recount all of them but have a look how some German words morphed and changed when used in English.

I have no political, cultural, religious or any other ulterior agenda besides attempting to point out what seems to me to be an error that was overlooked or unknown.

You are overlooking the fact that the word alcohol did not always mean what it does today. When the word was first used in English, it meant collyrium (antimony sulfide), which you will recognize as كحل. It did not get its modern meaning until about 200 years ago. After it came to mean ethanol, it was re-introduced into Arabic as الكحول, which was then related to كحل by the process of backformation. —Stephen 20:53, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
I say we stick with the traditional etymology, which is and has almost always been, that of the collyrium used for painting the eyes. Despite its old meaning, it is still, to my awareness the only REAL etymology of our “alcohol”.—Strabismus 23:55, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
Let me share with you part of the entry on alcohol in the work Dictionary of Word Origins by Joseph Shipley (1945):

    When a happy drinker refers to his liquor as “eye wash,” he little knows how exact his expression falls. Alcohol is from Arab. al, the + koh’l (Heb. kahhal, to stain, paint), a fine black powder (collyrium) for painting the eyelids. The word kohl is still used in this sense.
    Applied later to any fine powder, the word alcohol was then used also of liquids extracted, distilled or “rectified”—that is, the spirit or quintessence of a substance. Since the most common of these was spirit of wine, the term came to be applied to the spirituous or intoxicating element in any liquor.
    In 1834 Dumas and Péligot, in France, demonstrated the relation of spirit of wine with “wood-spirit” (wood alcohol, methyl alcohol, CH3; and the term came into its chemical use indicating a large group of related substances (CH3; C2H5; C3H7; etc. CH4; C2H6; C3H8; etc.) not all of which are liquid.
    Intertangled in part of its history with the word alcohol is L. collyrium, from Gr. kollyrion, poultice, eye-salve, from diminutive of Gr. kollyra, a roll of coarse bread. (Country folk still make a little ball of the inside dough of a roll, to lay on a sore eye.) Ben Jonson (in The Fortunate Isles, 1624) uses collyrium for alcohol, as a coloring for the eyelids; this use persists to the end of the 19th century. And truly alcohol has colored many an eye!
Pretty interesting, huh?—Strabismus 03:40, 16 March 2009 (UTC)

"An impalpable powder"[edit]

Webster 1913's first definition for alcohol is "(obsolete) An impalpable powder". What does this mean? Any powder that's extremely fine, or something else? Equinox 14:46, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

Yes, any very fine powder. —Stephen (Talk) 14:55, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
Yes check.svg Done Equinox 04:04, 27 October 2013 (UTC)