noun[mass noun] Chemistry
A mixture of concentrated nitric and hydrochloric acids. It is a highly corrosive liquid able to attack gold and other resistant substances.
- It is not attacked by most acids, although it does dissolve in aqua regia (a mixture of concentrated nitric acid and 3-4 parts of hydrochloric acid).
- Some time before 1300, sulfuric acid was prepared, and alchemists created aqua regia, a mixture of sulfuric and nitric acids that is capable of dissolving gold, platinum, and many other materials.
- Gold resists corrosion by air and most chemicals but can be dissolved in a mixture of nitric and hydrochloric acids, a solution called aqua regia because it dissolves the ‘king of metals’.
Early 17th century: Latin, literally 'royal water'.
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