From Old French alkimie, arquemie (French alchimie), from Medieval Latin alchēmia, from Arabic اَلْكِيمِيَاء or al-kīmiyāʔ, from Ancient Greek χυμείᾱ or khumeíā (art of alloying metals), perhaps from Χημία or Khēmía (black earth, ancient name for Egypt) and/or χυμός or khumós (juice, sap). Compare Spanish alquimia and Italian alchimia.
alchemy (countable and uncountable, plural alchemies)
- The premodern and early modern study of physical changes, particularly in Europe, Arabia, and China and chiefly in pursuit of an elixir of immortality, a universal panacea, and/or a philosopher's stone able to transmute base metals into gold, eventually developing into chemistry.
- The purpose of physical alchemy—as opposed to its various spiritual pursuits—was to treat the supposed leprosity of base metals such as lead, refining and purifying them into gold.
- The causing of any sort of mysterious sudden transmutation.
- practical alchemy
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