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Spirits An etymologic approach.

The word spirit, as an estimated 70% of the modern English vocabulary, has its origins in Latin. It holds its current status since around the middle of the 13th century. The latin word spiritus has a wide range of meaning, initially only meant breath as in exhaltation but through associative language change eventually life, spirit and courage has been added to this previous one. This derivative of spiro (to breath) has been a great use to Cicero and Caesar whom carried on using it as an abstract idea for mightier virtues as pride or bravery. Later in the Vulgata spiritus becomes synonimous with animus and acquires the meaning of a suprenatural being. Before we try to guess upon these preconceptions we gathered here, which meaning might have evolved into meaning destilled alcoholic beverages in the modern English language, we have to stop for a second and investigate more carefully. Sice there is no evidence of consumpsion of distilled alcohol in the classical era, we might want to consider the geographic location of origin when doing a research on the appellation itself. As the first destillations probably happened somewhere near the Middle East, alcohol as a word also originates from the arabic Al-kuhl, this we can almost be sure of. Here we meet two plausible theories, the first explains that Alkuhl means finely separated, with al being the arabic definite article prefix and kuhl originating from khala which means to stain or to paint. First it was supposed to signify powdered cosmetical products and this is beieved to have boardened into any sublimated substance shortly, while the modern sense of intoxicating ingredient in liquor would make its first apperiance as late as in 1753 according to a source. Hitherto this sounds clear and straightforward but with an alcoholic culture as flourishing as Europe had after the mediaeval import of the destillation thechnique there had to be a word to use for everybodys favourite method to reach oblivion. How did Shakespeare address his favourite kind of scotish whiskey? This second explanation might have and answer. The Quoran features a very interesting line from our point of view. It uses Al-Ghawl meaning the spirit with the sense of what gives the wine its power to seemingly let us enter into another state of mind. (We can also recognize the english word ghoul having its roots in the arabic equivalent ghawl.) This follows the same linguistical logic as Shakespeare has in Othello when Cassio - sobering up after a drinking scene - reproaches himself saying there words: O thou invisible spirit of wine, if thou hast no name to be known by, let us call thee devil. Hereby Shakespeare advises us to call the intoxicating substance devil, but he himself refers to it as a spirit wine has, and as a ghoul would do this spirit also takes posession of ones mind. Pobably accidentally avancing in the footsteps of the bard of avon a temperance movement in the United States in the 30ies used the propaganda slogan alcohol=devil. It is unambigous that presence spirit in a sense of an alcoholic beverage is a rather late phenomenon in the English language. One can have so many associations and explantions for a specific riddle of the roots and origins, and it would require an immense amout of time to justify just one theory without leaving space for possible objections. Modern day advertisers also take adventage of the two meaning of the word spirit. Easy game on words, still a quite elegant slogan can be made by confusing the two senses. This was obviously exploited by numerous companies selling liquor. The Jameson Irish wiskey has the slogan of the Irish spirit relying on the patriotic feelings of consumers while Glenfinddich, another whiskey from Scotland advertises as The Independent Spirit.