Etymology
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alcohol (n.)

1540s (early 15c. as alcofol), "fine powder produced by sublimation," from Medieval Latin alcohol "powdered ore of antimony," from Arabic al-kuhul "kohl," the fine metallic powder used to darken the eyelids, from kahala "to stain, paint." The al- is the Arabic definite article, "the."

Paracelsus (1493-1541) used the word to refer to a fine powder but also a volatile liquid. By 1670s it was being used in English for "any sublimated substance, the pure spirit of anything," including liquids.

The sense of "intoxicating ingredient in strong liquor" is attested by 1753, short for alcohol of wine, which then was extended to the intoxicating element in fermented liquors. The formerly preferred terms for the substance were rectified spirits or brandy.

In organic chemistry, the word was extended by 1808 to the class of compounds of the same type as this (a 1790 translation of Lavoisier's "Elements of Chemistry" has alkoholic gas for "the combination of alkohol with caloric").

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grain (n.)

early 14c., "a small, hard seed," especially of one of the cereal plants, also as a collective singular, "seed of wheat and allied grasses used as food;" also "something resembling grain; a hard particle of other substances" (salt, sand, later gunpowder, etc.), from Old French grain, grein (12c.) "seed, grain; particle, drop; berry; grain as a unit of weight," from Latin granum "seed, a grain, small kernel," from PIE root *gre-no- "grain." From late 14c. as "a species of cereal plant." In the U.S., where corn has a specialized sense, it is the general word (used of wheat, rye, oats, barley, etc.).

Figuratively, "the smallest possible quantity," from late 14c. From early 15c. in English as the smallest unit of weight (originally the weight of a plump, dry grain of wheat or barley from the middle of the ear). From late 14c as "roughness of surface; a roughness as of grains." In reference to wood, "quality due to the character or arrangement of its fibers," 1560s; hence, against the grain (1650), a metaphor from carpentry: cutting across the fibers of the wood is more difficult than cutting along them.

Earliest sense of the word in English was "scarlet dye made from insects" (early 13c.), a sense also in the Old French collateral form graine; see kermes for the evolution of this sense, which was frequent in Middle English; also compare engrain. In Middle English grain also could mean "seed of flowers; pip of an apple, grape, etc.; a berry, legume, nut." Grain alcohol attested by 1854.

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ethanol (n.)

"ethyl alcohol," 1900, contracted from ethane, to which it is the corresponding alcohol, + -ol, here indicating alcohol.

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gasohol (n.)

gasoline and ethanol mixture, 1975, from gasoline + (ethyl) alcohol.

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alcoholism (n.)

"disease of alcohol addiction," by 1882, from alcohol + -ism, or else from Modern Latin alcoholismus, coined in 1852 by Swedish professor of medicine Magnus Huss to mean what we now would call "alcohol poisoning, effects of excessive ingestion of alcohol." In earlier times, alcohol addiction would have been called habitual drunkenness or some such term.

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aldehyde (n.)

first oxidation product of alcohol, 1833, discovered in 1774 by German-born Swedish chemist Carl Wilhelm Scheele, the name said to have been coined by German chemist Justus von Liebig from abbreviation of Modern Latin alcohol dehydrogenatum "dehydrogenated alcohol." Related: Aldehydic.

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methanol (n.)

"methyl alcohol," 1892 (adopted that year by the international scientific community), from methyl + -ol, suffix denoting "alcohol."

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chloral (n.)

"colorless liquid formed by the action of chlorine on alcohol," apparently coined by German chemist Justus von Liebig in 1833 from elements from chlorine + alcohol. Later chiefly in chloral hydrate (1874).

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grogram (n.)

coarse, stiff textile fabric, 1560s, from French gros grain "coarse grain or texture;" see gross (adj.) + grain (n.).

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granule (n.)

1650s, from French granule or directly from Late Latin granulum "small grain," diminutive of Latin granum "grain," from PIE root *gre-no- "grain."

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