also distil, late 14c., distillen, "to let fall in drops" (transitive); early 15c., "to drop, trickle, drip, fall in drops" (intransitive), from Old French distiller (14c.), from Latin distillare "trickle down in minute drops," from dis- "apart" (see dis-) + stillare "to drip, drop," from stilla "drop," which is of uncertain origin, perhaps from a PIE root *sti-. De Vaan compares Greek stile "drop;" Lithuanian styri "to become stiff," Old Norse stira "to be rigid, stiff," but has doubts about all of them. From late 14c. as "obtain or extract by distillation;" from c. 1400 as "subject to distillation." Related: Distilled; distilling.
updated on September 06, 2018