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”.
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.
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.