Etymology of alcoholEdit

See also: Wikipedia talk on Etymology
Nils von Barth (nbarth) (talk) 20:13, 31 December 2008 (UTC)

I have some doubts about the etymology. Alcohol refers to that chemical substance contained in drinks and perfumes among other uses. I think alcohol actually comes from Arabic: al ghoul ghoul and ghaal from Arabic means to take away or to cover something, Arabs used the term to refer to alcoholic beverages as well as to describe the mind altering affect of alcohol because it takes away or covers the mind.

have a look at the Quran surah number 37 (AL Saffat) verse numbers 45 - 47

45. There will be a round of a flowing drink cup before their eyes.
46. White coloured, delicious to those who drink.
47. Wherein neither there is intoxication and nor their heads will become giddy wherewith. 

God is describing heaven and that one of its bounties is that there will be abundant drink that does not "intoxicate" and in another translation "causes headiness". the arabic word used for it is ghoul.

how alcohol came about from ghoul? it was probably a pronunciation problem because English doesn't have the Arabic letter "ghaa" and when the Arabic word "al ghoul" is spoken by an English speaker it would come out as al goohl or alcohol. Which is not powder of Antimony (Arabic al kuhl).

- —This unsigned comment was added by (talk).

the current Arabic word for alcohol which is al kuhool is actually re-introduced from the west from the original al ghoul.

The source of the English word alcohol comes from the Arabic word al ghoul not from the current Arabic word al kuhool which is actually a semi modern introduction from the English alcohol which in turn was modified from the original Arabic word al ghoul.

Edit: i found that this is already mentioned in the wiki of alcohol

- —This unsigned comment was added by (talk).

We use the standard etymology, not POV revisionism. Robert Ullmann 15:22, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

If by "standard etymology" you mean the one printed in most if not all English dictionaries since their beginning then please remember that the one who put it is only human and i can see how easily it is to mix up alcohol with al kuhl since they have very similar pronunciation.

This is not POV revisionism, I'm giving you a case and explaining and giving evidence, dictionary entries are not beyond revision and change. words can be deformed while passing from one language to another due to different pronunciations and letters.

Take the Spanish alforno for example, it came from Arabic al furn, yet Spanish has added the o at the end due to their language specifics. there are a lot of examples and between many different languages, i can't recount all of them but have a look how some German words morphed and changed when used in English.

I have no political, cultural, religious or any other ulterior agenda besides attempting to point out what seems to me to be an error that was overlooked or unknown.

You are overlooking the fact that the word alcohol did not always mean what it does today. When the word was first used in English, it meant collyrium (antimony sulfide), which you will recognize as كحل. It did not get its modern meaning until about 200 years ago. After it came to mean ethanol, it was re-introduced into Arabic as الكحول, which was then related to كحل by the process of backformation. —Stephen 20:53, 27 October 2007 (UTC)
I say we stick with the traditional etymology, which is and has almost always been, that of the collyrium used for painting the eyes. Despite its old meaning, it is still, to my awareness the only REAL etymology of our “alcohol”.—Strabismus 23:55, 15 March 2009 (UTC)
Let me share with you part of the entry on alcohol in the work Dictionary of Word Origins by Joseph Shipley (1945):

    When a happy drinker refers to his liquor as “eye wash,” he little knows how exact his expression falls. Alcohol is from Arab. al, the + koh’l (Heb. kahhal, to stain, paint), a fine black powder (collyrium) for painting the eyelids. The word kohl is still used in this sense.
    Applied later to any fine powder, the word alcohol was then used also of liquids extracted, distilled or “rectified”—that is, the spirit or quintessence of a substance. Since the most common of these was spirit of wine, the term came to be applied to the spirituous or intoxicating element in any liquor.
    In 1834 Dumas and Péligot, in France, demonstrated the relation of spirit of wine with “wood-spirit” (wood alcohol, methyl alcohol, CH3; and the term came into its chemical use indicating a large group of related substances (CH3; C2H5; C3H7; etc. CH4; C2H6; C3H8; etc.) not all of which are liquid.
    Intertangled in part of its history with the word alcohol is L. collyrium, from Gr. kollyrion, poultice, eye-salve, from diminutive of Gr. kollyra, a roll of coarse bread. (Country folk still make a little ball of the inside dough of a roll, to lay on a sore eye.) Ben Jonson (in The Fortunate Isles, 1624) uses collyrium for alcohol, as a coloring for the eyelids; this use persists to the end of the 19th century. And truly alcohol has colored many an eye!
Pretty interesting, huh?—Strabismus 03:40, 16 March 2009 (UTC)

"An impalpable powder"Edit

Webster 1913's first definition for alcohol is "(obsolete) An impalpable powder". What does this mean? Any powder that's extremely fine, or something else? Equinox 14:46, 30 November 2011 (UTC)

Yes, any very fine powder. —Stephen (Talk) 14:55, 30 November 2011 (UTC)
Yes check.svg Done Equinox 04:04, 27 October 2013 (UTC)

"olcohol" pronunciationEdit

Can someone give some sourced, verifiable information on the /ɑl-/ pronunciation, since it's not in any dictionary and deviates from 300+ years of usage of the word. Is it restricted to the U.S.? Is it considered acceptable? How common is it? Is it regional? Is it associated with a particular age group? In my experience (United States), it just sounds absurd and I've never heard one educated speaker use it. I do admit that I've heard it from children and teenagers, but that alone doesn't make it worth mentioning, let alone acceptable. For what it's worth, this educated speaker regards /ɑl-/ as a speech error; I believe that the vast majority of educated speakers would agree, though. Anyway, I just boldly removed the offending variant pronunciation from the wiktionary entry; please don't bring it back until these issues are addressed. Thank you. Stick Daze (talk) 00:22, 18 August 2015 (UTC)

It definitely exists. The only specific person I know who pronounces it that way is from Chicago, but I hear it occasionally from people I meet or on TV. Anyway, at Wiktionary we document everything, not just the speech of "educated speakers". --WikiTiki89 03:11, 18 August 2015 (UTC)
Merriam-Webster, Cambridge, Oxford,, and MacMillan all only have the /æ/ pronunciation. Can we find a reference for /ɑ-/? - -sche (discuss) 03:26, 18 August 2015 (UTC)
Well, simply put, educated speakers are those who "make the rules." Just because what you think is a variant pronunciation has some currency based on impressionistic evidence doesn't mean we have to mention it without comment alongside the established usage, especially given that no source can be found (not yet, at least) in authoritative publications, or even on the internet, for that matter. Make no mistake: I'm all for descriptive linguistics, but descriptive dictionaries have usage notes clarifying the actual use of alternative forms and, perhaps more importantly, to what extent they are regarded as acceptable by editors, news anchors, and, more broadly, educated speakers--or even the masses. That's part of what being "descriptive" is about, after all.
As for the case at hand, none of the published works we know of have any information on the /ɑ-/ pronunciation. Therefore we have no references as of yet, and until we do, whatever you or I might say about this particular variant pronunciation is sheer speculation; and speculation doesn't really serve the purpose of "documenting everything," if we are to do it, as I suppose, with a minimum of credibility, reliability, and accuracy, lest Wiktionary become a grab bag where the line between sound and noise is blurred. And since we are speculating, I may hypothesize that the /ɑ-/ variant may have some currency in and around Chicago and possibly other parts of the Midwest because of the w:Northern Cities Shift (NCS), which makes /ˈɑlkəhɔl/ as pronounced by a speaker of that particular dialect sound pretty much like /ˈælkəhɑl/ would for most other North American speakers. If a kid growing up with the NCS learns the word alcohol by hearing it in isolation from a non-NCS speaker and tries to replicate it in his/her own dialect, the result will likely be /ˈɑlkəhɔl/. Again, this is speculation. As a matter of fact, I just found a guy on Youtube named James Norton who uses that pronunciation and--unsurprisingly--speaks with a Midwestern accent, and--equally unsurprisingly--is regularly ridiculed by YouTube users (the masses, the hoi polloi) for his pronunciation of alcohol. (He also pronounces milk as /mɛlk/, but that is a well-documented usage found in parts of the Midwest, particularly the Upper Midwest and possibly Canada.)
Again, I request that the /ɑ-/ variant be removed until a reputable reference is found. I could be bold and do it myself, but I consider myself a nice guy and not just an educated speaker. :) Stick Daze (talk) 19:37, 18 August 2015 (UTC)
I have no problem with qualifying the pronunciation as nonstandard or regional or something. I will check DARE at the library when I get a chance (might not be for a few weeks). --WikiTiki89 22:15, 18 August 2015 (UTC)
The DARE project would be a great source, since it consists of an enormous body of work collected over several decades. If you find something there it means that it's got some kind of dialectal basis and that it's not just a mispronunciation popped up in recent years (as I think it is, for what it's worth). An alternative theory would be that this is part of a larger trend of substitutions of short-o for short-a before /l/ in words spelled with al, for example genealogy (where /ɑ/ now predominates), Halloween (where /ɑ/ is becoming the more common of the two), and nostalgia (where /ɑ/ is still in the minority but slowly gaining ground). It's probably safe to say that the short-o pronunciations started out as errors in all of these examples, albeit for different reasons; but if most educated speakers don't think that it's worthwhile to resist the change, well, let the chips fall where they may. There's no better reason to hold on to /ælkəhɑl/ than there is (or was) for any of the /æ/'s in those three examples, except perhaps that the trend as a whole is headed toward the loss of the /æl/~/ɑl/ contrast, which is a potential source of confusion, as neutralization usually is. Stick Daze (talk) 22:59, 18 August 2015 (UTC)
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