1. A medieval chemical philosophy having as its asserted aims the transmutation of base metals into gold, the discovery of the panacea, and the preparation of the elixir of longevity.
2. A seemingly magical power or process of transmuting: "He wondered by what alchemy it was changed, so that what sickened him one hour, maddened him with hunger the next" (Marjorie K. Rawlings).
[Middle English alkamie, from Old French alquemie, from Medieval Latin alchymia, from Arabic al-kīmiyā' : al-, the + kīmiyā', chemistry (from Late Greek khēmeia, probably alteration of khumeia, from Greek khein, khu-, to pour; see gheu- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots (influenced, owing to the reputation of Egyptian alchemists, by Greek Khēmiā, Egypt, from Egyptian kmt, Egypt, from feminine of km, black, in reference to the black soil of the Nile valley)).]
al·chemi·cal (ăl-kĕmĭ-kəl), al·chemic adj.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.