n. any of a class of organic compounds formed when a hydroxyl group (–OH) is substituted for a hydrogen atom in a hydrocarbon. The alcohol in alcoholic drinks is ethyl alcohol (ethanol), which has the formula C2H5OH. It is produced by the fermentation of sugar by yeast. ‘Pure’ alcohol contains not less than 94.9% by volume of ethyl alcohol. It is obtained by distillation. A solution of 70% alcohol can be used as a preservative or antiseptic. When taken into the body ethyl alcohol depresses activity of the central nervous system (see also alcoholism). Methyl alcohol (methanol) is extremely poisonous.
Subjects: Medicine and health