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
Alchemical songs that achieve pop universality through personal specificity.Remembering Weezer’s ‘The Blue Album,’ A Garage Rock Classic, on Its 20th Anniversary|Andrew Romano|May 10, 2014|DAILY BEAST
The Garden of Cyrus, with its arcane explorations of botany and geometry, may as well be an alchemical treatise or a grimoire.Halloween Read: Thomas Browne’s Eerie Premonition of His Burial|Stefan Beck|October 30, 2012|DAILY BEAST
Here he met the apothecary George Starkey, and in his presence performed the alchemical feat of making gold (p. 179).Poems of Henry Vaughan, Silurist, Volume II|Henry Vaughan
Alchemical books abound in quotations from the writings of Geber.
These thoughts went so far as to connect the new marvel with alchemical wonder tales.
Similarly the alchemical Elements and Principles were useful class-marks.
A lute lay beside him on the floor, and there were several astrological and alchemical implements within reach.Windsor Castle|William Harrison Ainsworth
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.