One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A substance produced by the action of ammonia on mercuric chloride, the main component being mercury amide chloride (ClHgNH₂), supposed by some alchemists to be a universal solvent and later used in bandages for its antiseptic properties. Formerly also †"alembroth-salt", †"salt of alembroth".
Mid 17th century; earliest use found in Elias Ashmole (1617–1692), astrologer and antiquary. From post-classical Latin alembrottus, alebrot, further etymology uncertain and disputed: perhaps from Arabic al-bārūd from al- the + bārūd saltpetre, gunpowder, or perhaps ultimately from Arabic al-zi'baq from al- the + zi'baq mercury chloride, sublimate, although this presupposes multiple misreadings of Arabic script, transmission errors, or both, in the transmission from Arabic to post-classical Latin.
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