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From Old French alkimie, arquemie (French alchimie), from Medieval Latin alkimia, from Arabic اَلْكِيمِيَاء ‎(al-kīmiyāʾ), اَل ‎(al-, the) + from Ancient Greek χημεία ‎(khēmeía) or χυμεία ‎(khumeía) originally “a mingling, infusion, juice, liquid, as extracted from gold” and later “alchemy”, perhaps from Χημία ‎(Khēmía, black earth (ancient name for Egypt)) and/or χυμός ‎(khumós, juice, sap). (Compare Spanish alquimia and Italian alchimia).



alchemy ‎(countable and uncountable, plural alchemies)

  1. (uncountable) The ancient search for a universal panacea, and of the philosopher's stone, that eventually developed into chemistry.
    • 2014 June 21, “Magician’s brain”, in The Economist, volume 411, number 8892:
      The [Isaac] Newton that emerges from the [unpublished] manuscripts is far from the popular image of a rational practitioner of cold and pure reason. The architect of modern science was himself not very modern. He was obsessed with alchemy.
  2. (countable) The causing of any sort of mysterious sudden transmutation.
    • 2016, Boris Johnson
      There is such a rich thesaurus now of things that I have said that have been, one way or another, through what alchemy I do not know, somehow misconstrued, that it would really take me too long to engage in a full global itinerary of apology to all concerned.
  3. (computing, slang, countable) Any elaborate transformation process or algorithm.

Derived termsEdit


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See alsoEdit