One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Silver nitrate, especially fused in the form of a stick.
- ‘For a long time in the treatment of places to be cauterized, only the dreaded nitrate of lunar caustic was used to produce the caustic effect.’
- ‘At the time with which we are concerned lunar caustic was used as an astringent, in medicine and for cosmetic purposes, and for marking linen.’
Early 19th century: lunar in the sense ‘containing silver’.
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