Words related to *gheu-
"medieval chemistry; the supposed science of transmutation of base metals into silver or gold" (involving also the quest for the universal solvent, quintessence, etc.), mid-14c., from Old French alchimie (14c.), alquemie (13c.), from Medieval Latin alkimia, from Arabic al-kimiya, from Greek khemeioa (found c.300 C.E. in a decree of Diocletian against "the old writings of the Egyptians"), all meaning "alchemy," and of uncertain origin.
Perhaps from an old name for Egypt (Khemia, literally "land of black earth," found in Plutarch), or from Greek khymatos "that which is poured out," from khein "to pour," from PIE root *gheu- "to pour" [Watkins, but Klein, citing W. Muss-Arnolt, calls this folk etymology]. The word seems to have elements of both origins.
Mahn ... concludes, after an elaborate investigation, that Gr. khymeia was probably the original, being first applied to pharmaceutical chemistry, which was chiefly concerned with juices or infusions of plants; that the pursuits of the Alexandrian alchemists were a subsequent development of chemical study, and that the notoriety of these may have caused the name of the art to be popularly associated with the ancient name of Egypt. [OED]
The al- is the Arabic definite article, "the." The art and the name were adopted by the Arabs from Alexandrians and entered Europe via Arabic Spain. Alchemy was the "chemistry" of the Middle Ages and early modern times, involving both occult and natural philosophy and practical chemistry and metallurgy. After c. 1600 the strictly scientific sense went with chemistry, and alchemy was left with the sense "pursuit of the transmutation of baser metals into gold, search for the universal solvent and the panacea."
early 15c., "bodily fluid;" c. 1600 in specific sense of "mass of semi-liquid food in the stomach," from Late Latin chymus, from Greek khymos, nearly identical to khylos "juice" (see chyle) and meaning essentially the same thing; from PIE root *gheu- "to pour." Differentiated by Galen, who used khymos for "juice in its natural or raw state," and khylos for "juice produced by digestion," hence the modern distinction.
c. 1300, "to condemn, curse," also "to destroy utterly;" from Anglo-French confoundre, Old French confondre (12c.) "crush, ruin, disgrace, throw into disorder," from Latin confundere "to confuse, jumble together, bring into disorder," especially of the mind or senses, "disconcert, perplex," properly "to pour, mingle, or mix together," from assimilated form of com "together" (see con-) + fundere "to pour" (from nasalized form of PIE root *gheu- "to pour").
From mid-14c. as "to put to shame, disgrace." The figurative sense of "confuse the mind, perplex" emerged in Latin, passed into French and thence to English by late 14c. The Latin past participle confusus, meanwhile, became confused (q.v.). The meaning "treat or regard erroneously as identical" is from 1580s.
1550s in a literal sense "mix or mingle things or ideas so as to render the elements indistinguishable;" from mid-18c. in the active, figurative sense of "perplex the mind or ideas of, discomfit in mind or feeling," but not in general use until after c. 1800. From 1862 as "erroneously regard as identical." It took over these senses from its older doublet, confound (q.v.).
The past participle confused (q.v.) is attested much earlier, in Middle English (serving as an alternative past tense to confound), evidently an adaptation of Old French confus or Latin confusus, "with the native ppl. ending -ED and the present stem a much later inference from it" [OED]. Related: Confusing.
1520s (transitive), "to pour out and spread, cause to flow and spread;" 1650s (intransitive), "spread abroad, scatter in all directions;" from Latin diffusus, past participle of diffundere "to pour out or away," from dis- "apart, in every direction" (see dis-) + fundere "to pour" (from nasalized form of PIE root *gheu- "to pour"). Related: Diffused; diffusing.
late 14c., diffusioun, "a copious outpouring," from Old French diffusion and directly from Latin diffusionem (nominative diffusio) "a pouring forth," noun of action from past-participle stem of diffundere "scatter, pour out," from dis- "apart, in every direction" (see dis-) + fundere "to pour" (from nasalized form of PIE root *gheu- "to pour"). Meaning "act of diffusing, state of being diffuse" is from 1590s; figurative sense of "a spreading abroad, dispersion" (of knowledge, etc.) is by 1750.
"to pour out, spill," late 14c., from French effuser or directly from Latin effusus "poured out," past participle of effundere "pour forth, spread abroad; to lavish, squander, waste," from assimilated form of ex "out" (see ex-) + fundere "to pour" (from nasalized form of PIE root *gheu- "to pour"). Related: Effused; effusing. Not to be confused with eff youse.
c. 1400, effusioun, "a pouring out," from Old French effusion (14c.) and directly from Latin effusionem (nominative effusio) "a pouring forth," noun of action from past participle stem of effundere "pour forth, spread abroad; to lavish, squander, waste," from assimilated form of ex "out" (see ex-) + fundere "to pour" (from nasalized form of PIE root *gheu- "to pour"). Figuratively, of speech, emotion, etc., from 1650s.