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sliv·o·vitz (slĭvə-vĭts)
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n.
A dry colorless plum brandy.

[Serbo-Croatian šljivovica, from šljiva, plum; see sleiə- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

Word History: Though colorless itself, slivovitz is made from bluish plums, and the name for this kind of brandy or schnapps is of Slavic origin and ultimately comes from the Indo-European root meaning "blue." The Slavic words for "plum," such as Serbo-Croatian šljiva, Czech slíva, and Russian sliva, are related to Latin līvidus, "bluish, bruise-colored," from which we get livid, a word synonymous with our black-and-blue when used to describe the discoloration caused by a bruise. The Indo-European root *sleiə-, "bluish," from which the Slavic and the Latin words are descended, has another descendant in English associated with alcohol, sloe, the name of a small sour plum of a dark purplish color. Many who have never seen this type of plum have tasted it in sloe gin, which is flavored with sloes.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2017 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

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