Definition of distil in English:


(US distill)

verbdistils, distilling, distilled

[with object]
  • 1Purify (a liquid) by heating it so that it vaporizes, then cooling and condensing the vapour and collecting the resulting liquid.

    ‘they managed to distil a small quantity of water’
    • ‘When distilling ethanol, the highest purity possible with an efficient still is 95 percent.’
    • ‘The control group was given distilled water plus saline.’
    • ‘The mine later built a condensing plant and distilled the water pumped from the shafts.’
    • ‘For negative bleaching, distilled water may be preferable.’
    • ‘Before it is used in cosmetics, water must be filtered, distilled, sterilized, and deionized.’
    • ‘Don't store distilled or ultra pure reverse osmosis water in soft plastic bottles.’
    • ‘Water, doubly distilled over quartz, was purified by Milli-Q Plus system (Millipore, Bedford, MA).’
    • ‘Deionized, distilled, and filtered water was used in the clean room.’
    • ‘In order to reduce stress on the liver, you need to give it the purest form of water possible, which is distilled water.’
    • ‘The industrial use of azeotropes to distill or purify mixtures of liquids is one of the more important aspects in any distillation process.’
    • ‘Group 1 served as normal control and was given distilled water orally.’
    • ‘If they said distilled water won't boil, they are incorrect.’
    • ‘Touted by some as water's purest form, distilled water is produced by condensing steam from boiled water back into its liquid state.’
    • ‘Baking soda, distilled white vinegar, washing soda, Borax and a good liquid soap or detergent will do nicely.’
    purify, refine, filter, treat, process
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    1. 1.1 Make (spirits or an essence) by distilling.
      ‘whisky is distilled from a mash of grains’
      • ‘When the fermentation has ceased the resulting liquid is then distilled.’
      • ‘The label reveals that it is distilled four times and has 5.5% more alcohol than the cheaper own-labels.’
      • ‘The port is from Frey zinfandel grapes and the added brandy is distilled in a certified organic distillery from Frey chenin blanc grapes.’
      • ‘He also invented a home-brewed replacement for that sooty kerosene - ethanol alcohol distilled from sweet sorghum using solar energy.’
      • ‘My own father taught me how to shoot pheasant, build model airplanes, and distill alcohol, but he really didn't know how to fix much around the house.’
      • ‘The filtered juice is fermented for up to three days, distilled, cooled and refiltered.’
      • ‘Only California grapes can be used, and the spirit must be distilled to below a maximum of 85 per cent alcohol.’
      • ‘Spirit labelled ‘brandy’ must be distilled from wine made from the fermentation of grapes.’
      • ‘The spirit they distilled became popular among the black South Africans too and is now finding its way back home, so to say.’
      • ‘There is now an acceptance by many that perhaps love really does flow in the veins of the people who drink Vodka distilled from potato seeds.’
      • ‘Genever, Holland's version of gin, is often distilled from malted grain mash similar to that used for whisky.’
      • ‘The waiter served a typical drink with our coffees - rum, distilled from local sugar-cane and blended with honey.’
      • ‘A spirit is distilled from the stalks thus prepared, by first fermenting them with water and either mingling bilberries with them or not.’
      • ‘Their primary staple was probably agave cactus, which the Spaniards later began distilling into mezcal, a liquor.’
      • ‘They also introduced tombo beer which is brewed from sorghum, and kashipembes which is distilled from a variety of wild fruits and berries.’
      • ‘France and England forbade commercial distilleries, so Americans started distilling the sugar cane residue themselves, primarily in New England.’
      • ‘The spirit also must be distilled in a traditional pot still and aged in Limousin oak.’
      • ‘In his optimism, Sale has even talked about exporting ethanol, at the same time touting Manitoba as a cheap place to grow the grain used to distil ethanol.’
      • ‘The difference is that in ‘distilled gin’ the botanicals that give the drink its flavor are distilled with the alcohol.’
      • ‘Poteen he explained is a very potent liquor distilled from potatoes.’
      brew, ferment, make
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    2. 1.2 Extract the essence of (something) by heating it with a solvent.
      ‘distil the leaves of some agrimony’
      • ‘Sometimes, the hot steam or water used to distill an essential oil does not extract much natural oil from the plant or harms the precious natural oil.’
      • ‘The alchemists then started trying to distill the Pneuma to discover its properties.’
      • ‘Although the cedarwood the Egyptians used was distilled by a crude distillation process, the other oils the Egyptians used were most likely infused oils.’
      • ‘Cholesterol was dissolved in ethanol and distilled, deionized water was added dropwise until a white precipitate appeared.’
      • ‘And I happen to have a bottle of aromatherapy oil distilled from the essence of myrrh.’
      • ‘Dr Dodd told the Glasgow Herald his plans include distilling and delivering aromatherapy products by phone.’
      • ‘A hydrosol is the water-based product left over after essential oils have been distilled off, like rose water.’
      • ‘Absinthe traditionally was distilled from a variety of plant products extracted into an ethanol base.’
      • ‘The hairs were treated in special containers to distill amino acid, the most common substance contained in soybean sauce.’
      • ‘As the steam condenses, the essential oil is distilled from the water.’
      • ‘The liquid turned out to be distilled morning glory seeds, which contain traces of lysergic acid.’
      • ‘By adding a small amount of other organic liquids, the ethanol can be distilled to 100%.’
      • ‘Organic oils are distilled or extracted from plants that are grown without pesticides.’
      • ‘The materials to be distilled are mashed in water.’
      extract, press out, squeeze out, express, draw out, take out
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    3. 1.3 Remove (a volatile constituent) of a mixture by heating.
      ‘coal tar is made by distilling out the volatile products in coal’
      • ‘While it was already known that distilling sea water removed the salt, the process had always left a disagreeable taste.’
      • ‘That is because they are distilled to the point where no molecules of the disease product remain.’
      • ‘This form of creosote, a mixture of chemicals created by distilling coal tar, is toxic in large amounts or after extended exposure.’
      • ‘To aid purification, TiO 2 has to be transformed into its corresponding tetrachloride, which is volatile and therefore easier to distil.’
      • ‘About one third of the smoke constituents, including nicotine, distil out of tobacco in this region.’
      • ‘Alcohol should be distilled out of wine before it is sold and drunk for its heart-healthy effects.’
      • ‘Dimethyl sulfoxide was freshly distilled from calcium hydride before use.’
      • ‘Krill oil, and most fish oil concentrates, are molecularly distilled to remove heavy metals.’
      boil down, reduce, concentrate, thicken, compress, condense
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    4. 1.4literary no object Emanate as a vapour or in minute drops.
      ‘she drew back from the dank breath that distilled out of the earth’
      • ‘The strawberries smothered in zabaglione which I had for dessert are summer itself distilled in a bowl.’
      • ‘I don't write messy realism; I write philosophically-driven, distilled, and consciously framed fiction.’
      • ‘The humpback weatherfront now hauls slow tarps of rain across our hills, but what is the pool where praise distils?’
      • ‘It is not ‘easy,’ not filled with narratives that lend themselves to paraphrase nor poems that distill into nice, aphoristic truisms.’
      • ‘In the laboratory of time, subtle essences of disenchantment and pessimism are distilled.’
      emanate, exude, drip, leak, trickle, dribble, flow
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  • 2Extract the essential meaning or most important aspects of.

    ‘my travel notes were distilled into a book’
    • ‘In the national media, the popular cartoon ‘Mark Trail’ beautifully distilled Silent Springs main ideas into a powerful graphic format.’
    • ‘These unchanging foundations can be distilled to three basic functions: collection, analysis, and production.’
    • ‘They are trained at great expense in traditions that are distilled from the work of their ancestors.’
    • ‘In essence, that means distilling your creative project into a nuts and bolts description that will capture the attention of producers and financiers.’
    • ‘Like many pregnant women, she is distilling all of society's free-floating anxiety about exposure to toxic chemicals into nine months of serious worrying.’
    • ‘As Michel Foucault has explained, often ‘normal’ or ‘legitimate’ are first distilled by exposing what they are not.’
    • ‘Yet how does one distill the Orphic essence from its various and utterly distinctive incarnations?’
    • ‘Perhaps Opie aims to revisit this magical period with his playful works, distilling the everyday into odd but intriguing icons.’
    • ‘As their mentors did, readers can then capitalise on that currency by releasing a book that distills their own inside knowledge.’
    • ‘Here in the West, we have the fortunate karma to be receiving the great teachings of the highest tantra, distilled from hundreds of years of experience.’
    • ‘By this time, results from years of research and analysis had been distilled.’
    • ‘From these interviews, it is Morris (not McNamara, it should be pointed out) who distills the 11 lessons of the film's subtitle.’
    • ‘After being asked for a demo, Beam submitted two full-length albums, which were distilled down into the 11-song The Creek Drank the Cradle.’
    • ‘These sweeping goals reflect a ‘best-practices’ perspective distilled from an analysis of the current demands being placed on schools.’
    • ‘Using intuitive navigation, they distill the most frequently used maintenance management features into a user-friendly interface.’
    • ‘In Akhmatova's fierce lyric complaint, a resonant vision has been distilled from the speaker's experience.’
    • ‘Table 1 presents background characteristics distilled from the 1,448 case records.’
    • ‘The singing itself distills the essence of American popular music in Charles's patented style.’
    • ‘He was not an innovator, but he captured the essence of a style and distilled it into the best possible expression.’
    • ‘If you can't distill all your interests, skills, and role into two words, then obviously you've failed at the business card.’


Late Middle English: from Latin distillare, variant of destillare, from de- ‘down, away’ + stillare (from stilla ‘a drop’).