1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Elixir

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ELIXIR (from the Arabic al-iksir, probably an adaptation of the Gr. ξήριον, a powder used for drying wounds, from ξηρός, dry), in alchemy, the medium which would effect the transmutation of base metals into gold; it probably included all such substances—vapours, liquids, &c.—and had a wider meaning than “philosopher’s stone.” The same term, more fully elixir vitae, elixir of life, was given to the substance which would indefinitely prolong life; it was considered to be closely related to, or even identical with, the substance for transmuting metals. In pharmacy the word was formerly given to a strong extract or tincture, but it is only used now for an aromatic sweet preparation, containing one or more drugs, and in such expressions as “elixir of vitriol,” a mixture of sulphuric acid, cinnamon, ginger and alcohol.