Definition of distil in English:

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Pronunciation: /dɪˈstɪl/
(US distill)

verb (distils, distilling, distilled)

[with object]
1Purify (a liquid) by heating it so that it vaporizes, then cooling and condensing the vapour and collecting the resulting liquid: they managed to distil a small quantity of water (as adjective distilled) distilled water
More example sentences
  • The mine later built a condensing plant and distilled the water pumped from the shafts.
  • If they said distilled water won't boil, they are incorrect.
  • Touted by some as water's purest form, distilled water is produced by condensing steam from boiled water back into its liquid state.
purify, refine, filter, treat, process;
vaporize/evaporate and condense, sublime, sublimate
rare fractionate
1.1Make (spirits or an essence) by distilling: whisky is distilled from a mash of grains (as noun distilling) the distilling industry
More example sentences
  • A spirit is distilled from the stalks thus prepared, by first fermenting them with water and either mingling bilberries with them or not.
  • Spirit labelled ‘brandy’ must be distilled from wine made from the fermentation of grapes.
  • They also introduced tombo beer which is brewed from sorghum, and kashipembes which is distilled from a variety of wild fruits and berries.
brew, ferment, make
1.2Extract the essence of (something) by heating it with a solvent: distil the leaves of some agrimony
More example sentences
  • Organic oils are distilled or extracted from plants that are grown without pesticides.
  • The hairs were treated in special containers to distill amino acid, the most common substance contained in soybean sauce.
  • As the steam condenses, the essential oil is distilled from the water.
extract, press out, squeeze out, express, draw out, take out
1.3Remove (a volatile constituent) of a mixture by heating: coal tar is made by distilling out the volatile products in coal
More example sentences
  • Krill oil, and most fish oil concentrates, are molecularly distilled to remove heavy metals.
  • To aid purification, TiO 2 has to be transformed into its corresponding tetrachloride, which is volatile and therefore easier to distil.
  • About one third of the smoke constituents, including nicotine, distil out of tobacco in this region.
boil down, reduce, concentrate, thicken, compress, condense;
purify, refine, separate, rectify
1.4 [no object] literary Emanate as a vapour or in minute drops: she drew back from the dank breath that distilled out of the earth
More example sentences
  • The humpback weatherfront now hauls slow tarps of rain across our hills, but what is the pool where praise distils?
  • I don't write messy realism; I write philosophically-driven, distilled, and consciously framed fiction.
  • The strawberries smothered in zabaglione which I had for dessert are summer itself distilled in a bowl.
emanate, exude, drip, leak, trickle, dribble, flow
2Extract the essential meaning or most important aspects of: my travel notes were distilled into a book (as adjective distilled) the report is a distilled version of the main accounts
More example sentences
  • The singing itself distills the essence of American popular music in Charles's patented style.
  • Yet how does one distill the Orphic essence from its various and utterly distinctive incarnations?
  • By this time, results from years of research and analysis had been distilled.



Example sentences
  • An aliquot of the ethanol-soluble fraction was used to distill ethanol with a small distillatory apparatus.
  • Julian turned to view the progress of the distillatory furnace before he answered her.
  • A useful distillatory apparatus has been contrived by Joseph P. Remington for recovering alcohol from weak percolates.


Late Middle English: from Latin distillare, variant of destillare, from de- 'down, away' + stillare (from stilla 'a drop').

  • still from Old English:

    In the sense ‘not moving’ still is Old English. The kind of still used to make whisky and other spirits is a different word, from distil (Late Middle English), which itself is based on Latin stilla ‘a drop’. The still small voice for a person's conscience, is biblical in origin. The prophet Elijah hid in a cave but was told to come out and hear the word of God. A great wind come first, then an earthquake, and finally a fire: ‘And after the earthquake a fire; but the Lord was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.’ Going back at least to the 15th century is the expression still waters run deep, suggesting that a quiet or placid manner may conceal a passionate or subtle nature. A 1616 version is ‘Where rivers run most stilly, they are the deepest.’

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