1. (Anciennement) Science occulte.
2. (Au figuré) Mystère.
ETYM Old Fren. alkemie, arquemie, French alchimie, Arabic al-kîmîa, from late Greek chemia a mingling, infusion. Related to Spanish alquimia, Italian alchimia.
Supposed technique of transmuting base metals, such as lead and mercury, into silver and gold by the philosopher's stone, a hypothetical substance, to which was also attributed the power to give eternal life.
This aspect of alchemy constituted much of the chemistry of the Middle Ages. More broadly, however, alchemy was a system of philosophy that dealt both with the mystery of life and the formation of inanimate substances. Alchemy was a complex and indefinite conglomeration of chemistry, astrology, occultism, and magic, blended with obscure and abstruse ideas derived from various religious systems and other sources. It was practiced in Europe from ancient times to the Middle Ages but later fell into disrepute when chemistry and physics developed.
1. A power like that claimed by alchemists.
2. A pseudoscientific predecessor of chemistry; sought to turn base metals into gold.