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Origin of the Word Blockbuster Origin of the word Boycott
Origin of the Word Alcohol - Little Surprise
2360    Dibyendu Banerjee    14/07/2017

Origin of the Word Alcohol 

Sometimes the origin of a particular word seems to be a surprising revelation. It seems to be an enigma, how ‘kohl’ is related to alcohol. 

In ancient time, possibly the Arabs or the Egyptians used to make their eye cosmetic, a distinctive jet-black eyeshadow, by grinding Stibnite, the sulphide of antimony. The fine metallic powder of Stibnite was then heated and mixed with animal grease to make a cosmetic paste. They named the paste as al-kohl, where the ‘al’


denotes the Arabic definite article, "the.” In fact, the term al-kohl is derived from an ancient Arabic name meaning “the stain” or “the paint”.

Cleopatra With Kohl
Cleopatra With Kohl

Since the Protodynastic Period of Egypt (CA. 3100 BCE) Kohl has been worn traditionally by the Egyptian queens and noble women and the cosmetic pallets used for its preparation assumed a prominent role in the late Predynastic Egyptian culture.

Hex Color Code
Kohl Container inscribed for Queen Tiye (1410-1372 BCE)

During the Middle Ages, the Alchemists and Scientists of Europe picked up this term from their Arabic-origin textbooks and began to apply it to all kinds of other substances that could be produced through similar means,


which included the process of distillation. Gradually, the meaning of alcohol was extended to distilled substances in general and then narrowed to ethanol, when "spirits" as a synonym for hard liquor.

Origin of the Word Blockbuster Origin of the word Boycott
Author Details
Dibyendu Banerjee
Ex student of Scottish Church College. Served a Nationalised Bank for nearly 35 years. Authored novels in Bengali. Translated into Bengali novels/short stories of Leo Tolstoy, Eric Maria Remarque, D.H.Lawrence, Harold Robbins, Guy de Maupassant, Somerset Maugham and others. Also compiled collections of short stories from Africa and Third World. Interested in literature, history, music, sports and international films.
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