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From Dutch potasch (modern spelling potas), coined in 1598. The literal translation is pot ash, because it was made by burning wood to ashes in a large pot. First attested in 1648.



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potash (countable and uncountable, plural potashes)

  1. the water-soluble part of the ash formed by burning plant material; used for making soap, glass and as a fertilizer
  2. (chemistry) an impure form of potassium carbonate (K2CO3) mixed with other potassium salts
  3. (chemistry, archaic) in the names of compounds of the form "... of potash", potassium (for example, "permanganate of potash" = potassium permanganate)

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potash (third-person singular simple present potashes, present participle potashing, simple past and past participle potashed)

  1. To treat with potassium.
    • 1910, Platers' Guide: With which is Combined Brass World:
      In order to ascertain the difference between the rapidity of pickling when the tin frames had been potashed and pickling without such treatment, two batches were used.
    • 1915, Metal Finishing: Preparation, Electroplating, Coating:
      Gold ornaments are sand blasted or steel brushed nicely, then potashed,
    • 1953, Nature Magazine, page 223:
      After removal from a worker bee they should be potashed in ten percent potassium hydroxide, washed, dehydrated, cleared, and mounted.
    • 2003, Senckenbergiana biologica, page 136:
      For the extraction of the internal sclerites the aedeagus was potashed in cold saturated KOH solution for several hours and transferred to a vial of distilled water.


  • Krueger, Dennis (December 1982). "Why On Earth Do They Call It Throwing?" Studio Potter Vol. 11, Number 1.[1]