1880, proprietary name for white suspension of magnesium hydroxide in water, taken as an antacid, invented by U.S. chemist Charles Henry Phillips. Herbal or culinary preparations more or less resembling milk had been similarly named (for example milk of almond) since late 14c.
late 14c., in alchemy, "one of the two main ingredients of the philosopher's stone," from Medieval Latin magnesia, from Greek (he) Magnesia (lithos) "the lodestone," literally "(the) Magnesian (stone)," a mineral said to have been brought from Magnesia, the region in Thessaly, which is said to be named for the native people name Magnetes, which is of unknown origin.
The ancient word, in this sense, has evolved into magnet. But in ancient times the same word, magnes, was used of lodestone as well as of a mineral commonly used in bleaching glass (modern pyrolusite, or manganese dioxide).
In the Middle Ages there was some attempt to distinguish lodestone as magnes (masc.) and pyrolusite as magnesia (fem.). Meanwhile, in 18c., a white powder (magnesium carbonate) used as a cosmetic and toothpaste was sold in Rome as magnesia alba ("white magnesia").
It was from this last, in 1808, that Davy isolated magnesium. He wanted to call it magnium, to stay as far as possible from the confused word magnesia, but the name was adopted in the form magnesium. Meanwhile from 16c. the other name of pyrolusite had been corrupted to manganese, and when, in 1774, a new element was isolated from it, it came to be called manganese.
Magnesia in its main modern sense of "magnesium oxide" (1755) is perhaps an independent formation from Modern Latin magnes carneus "flesh-magnet" (c. 1550), so called because it adheres strongly to the lips.
Old English melcan, milcian, meolcian "to press or draw milk from the breasts or udders of; give milk, suckle," from Proto-Germanic *melk- "to milk" (source also of Dutch melken, Old High German melchan, German melken), from PIE root *melg- "to rub off; to milk." Figurative sense of "exploit for profit" is by 1520s. In theater jargon, "to try to get more laughs, applause, etc. from the audience than is warranted" (1939). Related: Milked; milking.
"opaque white fluid secreted by mammary glands of female mammals, suited to the nourishment of their young," Middle English milk, from Old English meoluc (West Saxon), milc (Anglian), from Proto-Germanic *meluk- "milk" (source also of Old Norse mjolk, Old Frisian melok, Old Saxon miluk, Dutch melk, Old High German miluh, German Milch, Gothic miluks), from *melk- "to milk," from PIE root *melg- "to wipe, to rub off," also "to stroke; to milk," in reference to the hand motion involved in milking an animal. Old Church Slavonic noun meleko (Russian moloko, Czech mleko) is considered to be adopted from Germanic.
Of milk-like plant juices or saps from c. 1200. Milk chocolate (eating chocolate made with milk solids, paler and sweeter) is recorded by 1723; milk shake was used from 1889 for a variety of concoctions, but the modern version (composed of milk, flavoring, etc., mixed by shaking) is from the 1930s. Milk tooth (1727) uses the word in its figurative sense "period of infancy," attested from 17c. To cry over spilt milk (representing anything which, once misused, cannot be recovered) is first attested 1836 in writing of Canadian humorist Thomas C. Haliburton. Milk and honey is from the Old Testament phrase describing the richness of the Promised Land (Numbers xvi.13, Old English meolc and hunie). Milk of human kindness is from "Macbeth" (1605).
"A handsome and harmless serpent" [Century Dictionary], one of the larger snakes of the U.S., common in many states, by 1812, from milk (n.) + snake (n.). Also called chicken-snake (attested by 1793), house-snake, and thunder-and-lightning snake.
It [the milk-snake] sometimes in this county has been known to enter a grist-mill and remain a length of time for the apparent purpose of feeding on the mice which were there attainable. It is probable this is one principal object of his frequenting dwelling houses, and not always for the purpose of obtaining milk, as is generally supposed. [The American Journal of Science and Arts, April 1844]
"of or pertaining to Magnesia" (q.v.), either the district in Thessaly or one of two towns so called in Asia Minor, one near Miletus and the other in Lydia.