Pronunciation: (al'ku-hôl", -hol"), [key]
1. Also called ethyl alcohol, grain alcohol, ethanol, fermentation alcohol. a colorless, limpid, volatile, flammable, water-miscible liquid, C2H5OH, having an etherlike odor and pungent, burning taste, the intoxicating principle of fermented liquors, produced by yeast fermentation of certain carbohydrates, as grains, molasses, starch, or sugar, or obtained synthetically by hydration of ethylene or as a by-product of certain hydrocarbon syntheses: used chiefly as a solvent in the extraction of specific substances, in beverages, medicines, organic synthesis, lotions, tonics, colognes, rubbing compounds, as an automobile radiator antifreeze, and as a rocket fuel. Cf. denatured alcohol, methyl alcohol.
2. whiskey, gin, vodka, or any other intoxicating liquor containing this liquid.
3. Chem.any of a class of chemical compounds having the general formula ROH, where R represents an alkyl group and –OH a hydroxyl group, as in methyl alcohol, CH3OH, or ethyl alcohol, C2H5OH.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.