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fire +‎ water, a calque of a Native American language term, probably Ojibwe ishkodewaaboo ‎(alcohol), from ishkode ‎(fire) + aaboo ‎(liquid”, glossed in older works as “water). A number of other Algonquian and Siouan languages also refer to whiskey with compounds that mean "fire-water".


firewater ‎(countable and uncountable, plural firewaters)

  1. High proof alcohol, especially whiskey (especially in the context of its sale to or consumption by Native Americans).
    • 2012, Tom Lamont, How Mumford & Sons became the biggest band in the world (in The Daily Telegraph, 15 November 2012)[1]
      Four polite Englishmen in their middle 20s, feigning like firewater drunks in a Eugene O'Neill play: it's exactly the stuff that makes their detractors groan.
  2. High temperature hydraulic condensate discharged from industrial boilers.