Alembic: A type of still, an apparatus used in the process of distillation. Alembics were employed in chemistry and biomedical laboratories as well as in distilling cognac.
By extension, "alembic" is anything that refines or transmutes as if by distillation. For example, the alembic of the surgeon's mind.
From the Arabic al-anbiq meaning "the still" from the Greek word for a still ("ambix"). In Europe, the Arabic word was transmuted in Medieval Latin to "alembicum." and later shortened in English to "alembic."
Last Editorial Review: 9/14/2016