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Chemist in a white lab coat

Alternative forms[edit]


First attested 1562, borrowed from French chimiste, from Medieval Latin chimista, from earlier alchimista (literally alchemist), from Arabic الْكِيمِيَاء(al-kīmiyāʔ), from article al- + Ancient Greek χυμεία (khumeía, art of alloying metals), from χύμα (khúma, fluid), from χυμός (khumós, juice), from χέω (khéō, I pour). As a synonym for pharmacy, a metonymous use of the proprietor to stand for their shop.


  • enPR: kem'ĭst, IPA(key): /ˈkɛmɪst/
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chemist (plural chemists)

  1. A person who specializes in the science of chemistry, especially at a professional level.
    • 2013 August 10, “A new prescription”, in The Economist, volume 408, number 8848:
      As the world's drug habit shows, governments are failing in their quest to monitor every London window-box and Andean hillside for banned plants. But even that Sisyphean task looks easy next to the fight against synthetic drugs. No sooner has a drug been blacklisted than chemists adjust their recipe and start churning out a subtly different one.
  2. (chiefly Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Ghana) Synonym of pharmacist.
  3. (chiefly Britain, Australia, New Zealand) Synonym of pharmacy, especially as a standalone shop or general store.
  4. (obsolete) An alchemist.

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