Etymology
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alkali (n.)
late 14c., "soda ash," from Medieval Latin alkali, from Arabic al-qaliy "the ashes, burnt ashes" (of saltwort, which abounds in soda due to growing in alkaline soils), from qala "to roast in a pan." Later extended to similar substances, natural or manufactured. The modern chemistry sense is from 1813.
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alkalize (v.)
"render alkaline," 1725 (implied in alkalized), from French alcaliser; see alkali.
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alkalescent (adj.)
1732, from alkali + -escent. Related: Alkalescence.
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alkaline (adj.)
1670s, "pertaining to alkalis," from alkali + -ine (1). Of soils, from 1850. Related: Alkalinity.
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alkaloid (n.)
1831, from alkali (q.v.) + -oid. "A general term applied to basic compounds of vegetable origin, bitter in taste, and having powerful effects on the animal system" [Flood], including morphine and nicotine. As an adjective by 1859.
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potassium (n.)

metallic element, 1807, coined by English chemist Sir Humphry Davy from Modern Latin potassa, Latinized form of potash (q.v.). Davy first isolated it from potash. The chemical symbol K is from Latin kalium "potash," from Arabic al-qaliy "the ashes, burnt ashes" (see alkali). Related: Potassic.

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ammonia (n.)

volatile alkali, colorless gas with a strong pungent smell, 1799, coined in scientific Latin 1782 by Swedish chemist Torbern Bergman as a name for the gas obtained from sal ammoniac, salt deposits containing ammonium chloride found near temple of Jupiter Ammon (from Egyptian God Amun) in Libya (see Ammon, and compare ammoniac). The shrine was ancient already in Augustus' day, and the salts were prepared "from the sands where the camels waited while their masters prayed for good omens" [Shipley], hence the mineral deposits. Also known as spirit of hartshorn and volatile alkali or animal alkali.

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antacid (n.)
"alkali used as a remedy for acidity in the stomach," 1732, medical hybrid from anti- (which is shortened to ant- before vowels and -h-) + acid (n.). Also from 1732 as an adjective.
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helium (n.)

1868, coined from Greek hēlios "sun" (from PIE root *sawel- "the sun"), because the element was detected in the solar spectrum during the eclipse of Aug. 18, 1868, by English astronomer Sir Joseph N. Lockyer (1836-1920) and English chemist Sir Edward Frankland (1825-1899). It was not actually obtained until 1895; before then it was assumed to be an alkali metal, hence the ending in -ium.

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potash (n.)

"vegetable alkali; substance obtained originally by leaching wood-ashes and evaporating the solution obtained in a large iron pot or pan; one of the fixed alkalis," 1751, earlier pot-ash (1640s), a loan-translation of older Dutch potaschen, literally "pot ashes" (16c.); see pot (n.1) + ash (n.1).

So called because it was originally obtained by soaking wood ashes in water and evaporating the mixture in an iron pot. Compare German Pottasche, Danish potaske, Swedish pottaska, all also from Dutch. See also potassium. French potasse (1570s), Italian potassa are Germanic loan-words. The original plural was pot-ashes.

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