"whitish mineral salt used as an astringent, dye, etc.," late 14c., from Old French alum, alun, from Latin alumen "alum," also "the alum plant," from Proto-Italic *alu- "bitter substance" literally "bitter salt," cognate with Greek aludoimos "bitter" and perhaps with English ale and some Balto-Slavic words for "beer" (such as Lithuanian alus). The plant's medicinal use on wounds was known to Pliny.
1812, coined by English chemist Sir Humphry Davy, from alumina, alumine, the name given by French chemists late 18c. to aluminum oxide, from Latin alumen "alum" (see alum). Davy originally called it alumium (1808), then amended this to aluminum, which remains the U.S. word. British editors in 1812 further amended it to aluminium, the modern preferred British form, to better harmonize with other metallic element names (sodium, potassium, etc.).
Aluminium, for so we shall take the liberty of writing the word, in preference to aluminum, which has a less classical sound. [Quarterly Review, September 1812]
Aluminum foil attested by 1859; popularized in food packaging from c. 1950.
"pupil or graduate of a school," 1640s, from Latin alumnus "a pupil," literally "foster son," vestigial present passive participle of alere "to suckle, nourish" (from PIE root *al- (2) "to grow, nourish"). With ending akin to Greek -omenos. Plural is alumni. The fem. form is alumna (1882), plural alumnae.
"intoxicating liquor made by malt fermentation," Old English ealu "ale, beer," from Proto-Germanic *aluth- (source also of Old Saxon alo, Old Norse öl), which is of uncertain origin. Perhaps from a PIE root meaning "bitter" (source also of Latin alumen "alum"), or from PIE *alu-t "ale," from root *alu-, which has connotations of "sorcery, magic, possession, and intoxication" [Watkins]. The word was borrowed from Germanic into Lithuanian (alus) and Old Church Slavonic (olu).
In the fifteenth century, and until the seventeenth, ale stood for the unhopped fermented malt liquor which had long been the native drink of these islands. Beer was the hopped malt liquor introduced from the Low Countries in the fifteenth century and popular first of all in the towns. By the eighteenth century, however, all malt liquor was hopped and there had been a silent mutation in the meaning of the two terms. For a time the terms became synonymous, in fact, but local habits of nomenclature still continued to perpetuate what had been a real difference: 'beer' was the malt liquor which tended to be found in towns, 'ale' was the term in general use in the country districts. [Peter Mathias, "The Brewing Industry in England," Cambridge University Press, 1959]
Meaning "festival or merry-meeting at which much ale was drunk" was in Old English (see bridal).