n. pl. al·ka·lis or al·ka·lies
1. A carbonate or hydroxide of an alkali metal, the aqueous solution of which is bitter, slippery, caustic, and characteristically basic in reactions.
2. Any of various soluble mineral salts found in natural water and arid soils.
3. Alkali metal.
4. A substance having highly basic properties; a strong base.
[Middle English, alkaline substance from calcined plant ashes, from Medieval Latin, from Arabic al-qily, the ashes, lye, potash : al-, the + qily, ashes (from qalā, to fry, roast; see qly in the Appendix of Semitic roots).]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus