aqua fortis

aqua fortis (uncountable) (abbreviated A.F.)

  1. (inorganic compound, historical) Nitric acid.
  2. (alchemy) A corrosive liquor made of saltpeter, serving as a solvent for dissolving silver and all other metals except gold.
  3. (dialectal, dated) Any strong and potentially dangerous alcoholic drink.
    • 1867 December 25, “Police Reports” in the New Orleans Picayune:
      this man’s whiskey ain’t Red Eye, it ain’t Chain Lightnin’ either, it’s regular Agur-forty, and there isn’t a man living can stand a glass and keep his senses.
    • 1871 September 9, “Occasional Notes” in The Temperance Record, no. 805, page 422:
      “Watkey” [vodka] is, in fact, aquafortis, and more injurious than any other spirit.
    • 1896, W. C. Brann, Brann, the Iconoclast, volume 1, page 390:
      Doubtless the drinking of liquor adds to the cost of our judiciary; doubtless it is responsible for some crime; but the question at issue is not one of liquor-drinking vs. teetotalism—it is a question of drinking licensed liquor or Prohibition aquafortis.
    • 1917, Harvard College Class of 1872: Tenth Report of the Secretary, page 97:
      Here’s to her health and to her offspring haughty —
      And let the toast be drunk in aqua forty.
    • 1990, Graham Masterton, Empress, page 166:
      I’m in the best of spirits, the very best! Nothing like a few glasses of agur-forty to make a man feel on top of the world!

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