One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
The hypothetical universal solvent sought by alchemists.
- ‘They called that unknown liquid the alkahest. Alkahest was a word made up by the sixteenth-century alchemist Paracelsus.’
- ‘Alizarin is an orange or red crystalline compound and alkahest is the universal solvent believed by alchemists to exist.’
- ‘The philosopher's stone, the alcahest and the elixir were names of one and the same thing, and were supposed to accomplish an identical operation.’
- ‘A paradox involving alkahest is that, if it dissolves everything, then it cannot be placed into a container, because it would dissolve the container.’
Mid 17th century: sham Arabic, probably invented by Paracelsus.
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