Tom (goliard) wrote in unusual_words,


A medical plaster; an alcoholic solution of soap (or oleic acid) and camphor with some added essential oils; soap liniment; (also) a preparation made from this, esp. by mixing with laudanum; now arch. In extended use: (U.S. regional) any medicine; alcohol. (OED)

I would have guessed that this attractive-sounding word (too much so for what it describes) must come from some indigenous American language, but the OED says it was coined by Paracelsus, who seems to have had a penchant for whimsical neologisms: other coinages of his include nostoc, synovia, sylph, alkahest, and maybe even gnome.
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