mid-15c., circulacioun, in alchemy, "process of changing something from one element into another," from Latin circulationem (nominative circulatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of circulare "to form a circle," from circulus "small ring" (see circle (n.)).
Of blood, "act of moving so that it returns and begins again," first by William Harvey, 1620s. Meaning "act or state of being distributed" is from 1680s; that of "extent to which a thing circulates" (of periodical publications) is from 1847.
"water," late 14c., from Latin aqua "water; the sea; rain," from PIE root *akwa- "water." Used in late Middle English in combinations from old chemistry and alchemy to mean "decoction, solution" (as in aqua regia, a mix of concentrated acids, literally "royal water," so called for its power to dissolve gold and other "noble" metals). As the name of a light greenish-blue color, 1936.
early 15c., quint-essence, in ancient philosophy and medieval alchemy, "a pure essence latent in all things, and the substance of which the heavenly bodies are composed," literally "fifth essence," from Old French quinte essence (14c.) and directly from Medieval Latin quinta essentia, from Latin quinta, fem. of quintus "fifth" (from PIE root *penkwe- "five") + essentia "being, essence," abstract noun formed (to translate Greek ousia "being, essence") from essent-, present-participle stem of esse "to be" (from PIE root *es- "to be").
The Latin term is a loan-translation of Greek pempte ousia, the "ether" that was added by Aristotle (perhaps following the Pythagoreans) to the four known elements (water, earth, fire, air) and said to permeate all things. It was naturally bright, incorruptible, and endowed with circular motion. Its extraction was one of the chief goals of alchemy.
The transferred or figurative sense of "purest essence" (of a situation, character, etc.), "an extract from anything containing in a small quantity its virtues or most essential part" is by 1560s.
late 15c., projeccioun, in alchemy, "transmutation by casting a powder on molten metal," from Old French projeccion and directly from Latin proiectionem (nominative proiectio) "a throwing forward, a stretching out," noun of action from past-participle stem of proicere "stretch out, throw forth" (see project (v.)).
From 1560s in the cartographical sense of "system of continuous correspondence between the points of a spherical surface and those of a plane." From 1590s as "action of projecting." From 1756 as "that which projects or juts out."
1530s, "secret, not divulged," from French occulte and directly from Latin occultus "hidden, concealed, secret," past participle of occulere "cover over, conceal," from assimilated form of ob "over" (see ob-) + a verb related to celare "to hide" (from PIE root *kel- (1) "to cover, conceal, save"). Meaning "not apprehended by the mind, beyond the range of understanding" is from 1540s. The association with the supernatural sciences (magic, alchemy, astrology, etc.) dates from 1630s. A verb occult "to keep secret, conceal" (c.1500, from Latin occultare) is obsolete.
The term pseudo-science is hybrid, and therefore objectionable. Pseudognosy would be better etymology, but the unlearned might be apt to association with it the idea of a dog's nose, and thus, instead of taking "the eel of science by the tail," take the cur of science by the snout; so that all things considered we had better adopt the current term pseudo-sciences ["The Pseudo-Sciences," in The St. James's Magazine, January 1842]
"waxy, fatty stuff in the head of certain whales," late 15c., from Medieval Latin sperma ceti "sperm of a whale" (it has when fresh something of the appearance of sperm), from Latin sperma "seed, semen" (see sperm) + ceti, genitive of cetus "whale, large sea animal" (see Cetacea). The substance in olden times was credited with medicinal properties, as well as being used for candle oil.
Use ... Sperma Cete ana with redd Wyne when ye wax old. [Sir George Ripley, "The Compound of Alchemy," 1471]
Scientists still are not sure exactly what it does. Sperm whale, short for spermaceti whale, is from 1830.
late 15c., precipitacioun, "a casting down" (of the evil angels from heaven), also, in alchemy "separation of a solid substance from a solution," from Old French precipitation (15c.) and directly from Latin praecipitationem (nominative praecipitatio) "act or fact of falling headlong, haste," noun of action from past-participle stem of praecipitare "to throw or dive headlong; be hasty," from praeceps (genitive praecipitis) "steep, headlong, headfirst," from prae "before, forth" (see pre-) + caput "head" (from PIE root *kaput- "head").
The meaning "sudden haste" is from c. 1500. The meaning "act of falling from a height" is attested from 1610s. The meteorological sense of "rain, snow, dew, frost, hail, etc.; moisture from the atmosphere deposited on the earth's surface" is from 1670s.
Similarly, [Prof. Hans Driesch] includes under "parapsychology" such phenomena as telepathy and clairvoyance, which he regards as mere extensions from ordinary mental phenomena, rather than as fundamentally different processes. He believes that the same orderly process by which unclassified and diverse processes have been systematized,—alchemy becoming chemistry, astrology becoming astronomy,—is at work now,—to make, in place of the mysterious tradition of Occultism, a science which will really be an extension from scientific psychology and biology. ["Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research," April 1923]
1540s, in alchemy, "composed of contrasting elements which, in proper proportion, neutralize each other," also, of states, rulers, etc., "refraining from taking sides in a fight, not engaged on or interfering with either side" (probably from a similar meaning of neutralis in Medieval Latin), from Latin neutralis, from neuter "neither the one nor the other, neither of two" (see neuter (adj.)).
By 1550s of persons. Chemistry sense of "exhibiting neither acid nor alkaline qualities" is from 1660s. From 1711 in the sense of "of or belonging to a power not taking sides in a war or conflict." Of colors, "of low chroma, without positive quality of color," from 1821. Neutral corner is from boxing (1908), indicating the two corners of the ring not used between rounds by the fighters and their seconds.