Aqua Vitæ

[water of life ]. Certain ardent spirits used by the alchemists. Ben Jonson terms a seller of ardent spirits an “aqua-vitæ man” (Alchemist, i. 1). The “elixir of life” was made from distilled spirits, which were thought to have the power of prolonging life. (See Eau de Vie.)

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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