early 14c. "relative freedom of a noble metal from alloy or other impurities," from Anglo-French alai, Old French aloi "alloy," from aloiier (see alloy (v.)). Meaning " base metal alloyed with a noble metal" is from c. 1400. Modern spelling from late 17c. Meaning "any mixture of metals," without reference to values is from 1827.
c. 1400, "mix (a metal) with a baser metal," from Old French aloiier, aliier "assemble, join," from Latin alligare "bind to, tie to," from ad "to" (see ad-) + ligare "to bind, bind one thing to another, tie" (see ligament). In figurative use often implying debasement or reduction. Meaning "to mix any two metals" without reference to values is from 1822. Related: Alloyed; alloying.
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