noun (plural -lies or -lis) Etymology: Middle English, from Medieval Latin, from Arabic al-qili the ashes of the plant saltwort Date: 14th century 1. a soluble salt obtained from the ashes of plants and consisting largely of potassium or sodium carbonate; broadly a substance (as a hydroxide or carbonate of an alkali metal) having marked basic properties — compare base 7a 2. alkali metal 3. a soluble salt or a mixture of soluble salts present in some soils of arid regions in quantity detrimental to agriculture

New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.

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