noun, plural al·che·mies for 2, 3.
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Origin of alchemy
historical usage of alchemy
An older, mostly speculative etymology derives chēmeía from an unrecorded Greek verb chēmeúein “to work in an Egyptian way,” from the Egyptian name for Egypt, Chēmía (Coptic Chēme, Chēmi ) “Black Land” (so called in reference to the dark earth of the Nile Valley).
A more recent etymology considers chymeía to be a native Greek word, ultimately a derivative of the noun chýma “something poured out or flowing out, a liquid, an ingot or bar,” from the verb chéein, cheîn, cheúein “to pour, pour out, gush.” The Greek word originally applied to pharmaceutical chemistry, which was mostly concerned with the mixing and infusion of plant juices; and, indeed, medieval alchemy experiments frequently involved the pouring of liquids.
OTHER WORDS FROM alchemyal·chem·ic [al-kem-ik], /ælˈkɛm ɪk/, al·chem·i·cal, al·che·mis·tic [al-kuh-mis-tik], /ˌæl kəˈmɪs tɪk/, al·che·mis·ti·cal, adjectiveal·chem·i·cal·ly, adverb
Example sentences from the Web for alchemy
The will of God is the alchemic crucible: and the dross which is cast therein is matter.
Jealousy / Hath in it an alchemic force to fuse / Almost into one metal love and hate.
And all the while that alchemic progenitor of mine kept up his mysterious winking and nodding.The Laughing Mill and Other Stories|Julian Hawthorne
Here, probably, he stored his alchemic books and those treasures of the Tradescants which he gave to Oxford.Haunted London|Walter Thornbury
He was thinking of an old man who had installed an alchemic laboratory on the fifth floor of a house in the rue Saint Jacques.L-bas|J. K. Huysmans
British Dictionary definitions for alchemy
noun plural -mies
Derived forms of alchemyalchemic (ælˈkɛmɪk), alchemical or alchemistic, adjective
Word Origin for alchemy
Scientific definitions for alchemy
A Closer Look
Because their goals were so unrealistic, and because they had so little success in achieving them, the practitioners of alchemy in the Middle Ages got a reputation as fakers and con artists. But this reputation is not fully deserved. While they never succeeded in turning lead into gold (one of their main goals), they did make discoveries that helped to shape modern chemistry. Alchemists invented early forms of some of the laboratory equipment used today, including beakers, crucibles, filters, and stirring rods. They also discovered and purified a number of chemical elements, including mercury, sulfur, and arsenic. And the methods they developed to separate mixtures and purify compounds by distillation and extraction are still important.
Cultural definitions for alchemy
A science (no longer practiced) that sought to transform one chemical element into another through a combination of magic and primitive chemistry. Alchemy is considered to be the ancestor of modern chemistry.