Meaning of alcohol in English:


Pronunciation /ˈalkəhɒl/

See synonyms for alcohol

Translate alcohol into Spanish


mass noun
  • 1A colourless volatile flammable liquid which is produced by the natural fermentation of sugars and is the intoxicating constituent of wine, beer, spirits, and other drinks, and is also used as an industrial solvent and as fuel.

    Alternative names: ethanol, ethyl alcohol; chemical formula: C₂H₅OH

    ‘it is an offence to drive if you have more than 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood’
    • ‘the use of petrol containing alcohol’
    • ‘Sugar is taken and in the presence of an enzyme (a biological catalyst) ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide are produced.’
    • ‘Fermentation The conversion of sugar in grape juice into ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide.’
    • ‘an important measurement of any wine, is its concentration of the intoxicant ethyl alcohol, or ethanol.’
    • ‘The member for Otago raised an interesting point relating to methyl alcohol and ethyl alcohol.’
    • ‘The origins of the sordid controversy go back to the founding of the ethanol industry in Australia in the early 1990s. Ethanol, or ethyl alcohol, is a petrol additive derived from wheat, sugar and other vegetable matter.’
    • ‘The alcohol found in alcoholic beverages is ethyl alcohol (ethanol).’
    • ‘Specimens were dehydrated in a graded series of ethyl alcohol and propylene oxide solutions and embedded in araldite.’
    • ‘For instance, addition of water to ethene creates ethyl alcohol.’
    • ‘Italy taxed synthetic ethyl alcohol more highly than ethyl alcohol obtained from fermentation.’
    • ‘The ale is five per cent alcohol by volume, and was available at all Arkell's pubs this week.’
    • ‘The test was positive, thereby indicating he was over the legal limit for alcohol in his blood.’
    • ‘Three hours later, a blood sample showed he was twice the legal limit for alcohol.’
    • ‘It later records she has twice the legal limit of alcohol and will have to stay in the cells overnight.’
    • ‘However, the little alcohol in the martini was quickly taking me under its firm grip.’
    • ‘Punishment for brewing alcohol or possessing liquor is usually 80 lashes and a year in jail.’
    • ‘He breathalyses her which suggests she has twice the legal limit of alcohol in her bloodstream.’
    • ‘When she was breath-tested, she was found to have three times the legal limit of alcohol in her system.’
    • ‘He was subsequently found to have almost three and a half times the legal limit of alcohol in his blood.’
    • ‘The inquest heard that Mr Dean had been out with his friends to a public house, but had not drunk alcohol.’
    • ‘A roadside breath test found he had drunk more than twice the legal limit of alcohol.’
    1. 1.1Drink containing alcohol.
      ‘he has not taken alcohol in twenty-five years’
      • ‘If he could have stopped at one or two drinks, alcohol would have served him well, but he couldn't do that.’
      • ‘If you are using alcohol, vodka is the most appropriate as it has no scent of its own.’
      • ‘The new bill would make it an offence to serve alcohol to people who are drunk.’
      • ‘This is why men often seem to be able to drink more alcohol than women.’
      • ‘On the same night Gavin was also plied with alcohol, served up in a soft drinks can, Star claimed.’
      • ‘They also plan to prosecute if bar staff continue to serve alcohol to people who are drunk.’
      • ‘This would allow alcohol to be served after normal pub hours only to customers who were having a table meal.’
      • ‘More than 20 pubs in the district have been granted permission to open and serve alcohol for the game.’
      • ‘I heard it was because of the elections, and they were not allowed to serve any kind of alcohol.’
      • ‘The policy of Irish Rail to serve alcohol on their trains has therefore always puzzled me.’
      • ‘Shop owner Mr Kirby said he had earlier refused to serve the youth alcohol, and he had left without any trouble.’
      • ‘However, she admitted she had never seen Jackson serve the youngsters alcohol..’
      • ‘Premises which continue to serve alcohol without a renewed licence will be liable to prosecution.’
      • ‘Some bars served alcohol in a number of enterprising ways to try and fool the authorities.’
      • ‘There's a town just before the Sahara and it's the last one that serves alcohol and it's our duty to stock up.’
      • ‘In those days Bettys had a licence and served alcohol and was a magnet for servicemen of many Allied nations.’
      • ‘She told him that she was not going to serve him any more alcohol, and asked if he wanted her to call a cab.’
      • ‘When you get tired of drinking at home, why not go out and drink the same alcohol at twice the price down the pub?’
      • ‘After all, they go to the pub to meet with friends and drink alcohol, which they are still free to do.’
      liquor, intoxicating liquor, alcoholic drink, strong drink, drink, intoxicants
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Chemistry count noun Any organic compound whose molecule contains one or more hydroxyl groups attached to a carbon atom.
      ‘unpleasant stuff like formaldehyde is produced as alcohols burn’
      • ‘polyvinyl alcohol’
      • ‘Complete combustion of alcohols produces carbon dioxide and water.’
      • ‘Thermatoga microorganisms are known to play a role in the anaerobic oxidation of hydrocarbons to alcohols, organic acids and carbon dioxide.’
      • ‘On the other hand, the permeability of the membrane for small uncharged solutes such as low molecular weight alcohols, amides, ketones etc., did not change.’
      • ‘Many alkyl halides, alcohols, or alkenes can be reacted with benzene in the presence of certain catalysts to give an alkyl benzene.’
      • ‘a class of chemical compounds midway between the alcohols and the organic acids in their state of oxidation.’
      • ‘It is a mixture of esters of alcohols and acids, and some high molecular weight hydrocarbons.’
      • ‘Over time, however, it oxidizes and chemically degrades to form alcohols, ketones, aldehydes, acids and esters.’
      • ‘In a similar way, both hydroxide ions and water molecules may act as nucleophiles by reacting with alkyl halides to produce alcohols.’
      • ‘The volatile profile of fruits determined by gas chromatography and mass spectroscopy is complex, including many alcohols, aldehydes and esters.’
      • ‘Like other acids, it reacts with most alcohols to form esters and decomposes when heated; it is also easily oxidized.’
      • ‘Polyurethanes are created from dihydric alcohols and diisocyanate monomers.’
      • ‘The compounds generally referred to as feather waxes consist of fatty acids condensed with alcohols to form esters, such as triglycerides.’
      • ‘They are either reduced by glutathione peroxidases to unreactive fatty acid alcohols or they react with metals to produce epoxides, aldehydes, etc.’
      • ‘Naturally derived materials include chemicals used fatty acids and alcohols used in detergents and other industrial applications.’
      • ‘Esters can be used to manufacture tertiary alcohols by using a Grignard reagent.’
      • ‘Functional groups (such as alcohols, acids, and amines) are identified in organic chemistry.’
      • ‘Aliphatic and aromatic hydrocarbons, ketones, ethers, glycols and higher alcohols are not corrosive to magnesium and its alloys.’
      • ‘Solvents permitted in the UK for extraction include acetone, hexane, ethyl acetate, ethyl alcohol, and carbon dioxide.’
      • ‘Many chemicals found in common perfumes and fragrances are designated as ‘hazardous’, including methylene chloride, toluene, methyl ethyl ketone, methyl isobutyl ketone, ethyl alcohol and benzyl chloride.’
      • ‘It is about four times as strong as most real ales, with an alcohol by volume of 11 per cent.’


Mid 16th century French (earlier form of alcool), or from medieval Latin, from Arabic al-kuḥl ‘the kohl’. In early use the term referred to powders, specifically kohl, and especially those obtained by sublimation; later ‘a distilled or rectified spirit’ (mid 17th century).