A Word A Day : Elixir

Thursday, 24th January 2008 : Today's Word is ...


( Noun )

Pronunciation : i-lík-ser

1. a panacea or a quick or magical cure

2. a sweetened solution of a drug in alcohol and water

3. a substance once believed to prolong life indefinitely, or to transform base metals into gold

4. the quintessence or absolute embodiment of anything


14th century - Via medieval Latin - Arabic al-iksir - Greek xērion - dry powder for treating wounds - xēros - dry


1266, from Latin elixir - philosopher's stone - believed by alchemists to transmute baser metals into gold and/or to cure diseases and prolong life: From Greek - al-iksir, probably from late Greek - xerion - powder for drying wounds - from xeros - dry. General sense of strong tonic is 1597: used for quack medicines from at least 1631.


cure-all, elixir of life, extract, medicine, mixture, panacea, philosopher's stone, potion, principle, solution, cure, medicament, medication, nostrum, physic, remedy, tincture, tonic, preparation, restorative, tonic, pick-me-up, draught


peripherals, poison

Contextual Examples:

• The air you breathe is an elixir which prepares you for the unexpected.

• The doctor produced another spoonful of the elixir of life, and gravely repeated his first address to me.

• Like a subtle and mysterious elixir poured into the perishable clay of successive generations, it grows in truth, splendour, and potency with the march of ages.

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