One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Aqueous ammonia solution used as smelling salts, formerly prepared from the horns of deer.
- ‘Later, in the Middle Ages, ammonia was formed by the distillation of either stale urine, or the hooves and horns of oxen and deer, the latter concoction giving rise to the now defunct name, spirits of hartshorn.’
- ‘Over the last couple of years, Thomas Amrein and colleagues at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich have shown that the culprit is the traditional leavening agent: not familiar baking soda or powders, but ammonium bicarbonate, which is sometimes called hartshorn because it was originally obtained by heating deer antlers.’
- ‘According to my sources, the best cure for the bite was spirit of hartshorn.’
- ‘Van Helmont, who could not succeed in discovering the true elixir of life, however hit on the spirit of hartshorn, which for a good while he considered was the wonderful elixir itself, restoring to life persons who seemed to have lost it.’
- ‘Ammonium carbonate is a byproduct of hartshorn, a substance extracted from deer antlers (harts horn).’
Old English heortes horn (see hart, horn).
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