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Pronunciation: al′kŏ-hol


  1. One of a series of organic chemical compounds in which a hydrogen (H) attached to carbon is replaced by a hydroxyl (OH); alcohols react with acids to form esters and with alkali metals to form alcoholates. For individual alcohols not listed here, see specific name.
  2. made from sugar, starch, and other carbohydrates by fermentation with yeast, and synthetically from ethylene or acetylene. It has been used in beverages and as a solvent, vehicle, and preservative; medicinally, it is used externally as a rubefacient, coolant, and disinfectant, and has been used internally as an analgesic, stomachic, sedative, and antipyretic.
  3. The azeotropic mixture of CH3CH2OH and water (92.3% by weight of ethanol at 15.56°C).

Synonym(s): ethyl alcohol, grain alcohol, rectified spirit, wine spirit

[Ar. al, the, + kohl, fine antimonial powder, the term being applied first to a fine powder, then to anything impalpable (spirit)]

Further information

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© Copyright 2018 Wolters Kluwer. All Rights Reserved. Review date: Sep 19, 2016.