1543, "fine powder produced by sublimination," from M.L. alcohol "powdered ore of antimony," from Arabic al-kuhul "kohl," the fine metallic powder used to darken the eyelids, from kahala "to stain, paint." The al- is the Arabic definite article, "the." "Powdered cosmetic" was the earliest sense in Eng.; definition broadened 1672 to "any subliminated substance, the pure spirit of anything." Modern sense of "intoxicating ingredient in strong liquor" is first recorded 1753, short for alcohol of wine, which was extended to "the intoxicating element in fermented liquors." In organic chemistry, the word was extended 1850 to the class of compounds of the same type as this. Alcoholism "disease of alcohol addiction" is from 1852; alcoholic "one who is addicted to drinking in excess" is from 1891. Alcoholics Anonymous founded 1935 in Akron, Ohio, U.S. Alky is first recorded 1844 as a slang shortening of "alcoholic liquor;" 1960 in the sense of "a drunkard."
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