Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A cosmetic preparation, such as powdered antimony sulfide, used especially in the Middle East to darken the rims of the eyelids.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A dark powder used as eye makeup, especially in Eastern countries.
  • v. To decorate one's eyes with kohl or stibnite.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A mixture of soot and other ingredients, used by Egyptian and other Eastern women to darken the edges of the eyelids.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A powder used in the East from time immemorial in the toilet, to darken the orbits of the eyes, etc., properly consisting of finely comminuted antimony.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a cosmetic preparation used by women in Egypt and Arabia to darken the edges of their eyelids

Etymologies

Arabic kuḥl, powder of antimony, kohl; see kḥl in Semitic roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Arabic كحل (kuḥl). From Egyptian, Coptic, smet-t. Compare alcohol. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Antimony is still used for the purpose in Arabia and in Persia, but in Egypt the kohl is a root produced by burning either a kind of frankincense or the shells of almonds.

    Smith's Bible Dictionary

  • Having brushed the front hair over her forehead, and cut it straight across, the energetic Zooloo next painted her eyebrows black with a substance called kohl, causing them to meet over her nose in the most approved form of Algerine elegance.

    The Pirate City An Algerine Tale

  • His arrowy glance discovers the "poudre de riz" on their blooming cheeks, -- the carmine on their lips, and the "kohl" on their eyelashes.

    Thelma

  • She banished the "kohl" with which she had underlined her brilliant eyes, and strewed the violet powder to the four winds, as soon as she discovered that he preferred to stroke her full, firm cheeks when they were guiltless of powder.

    The Malady of the Century

  • “To most Americans,” writes historian Kathy Peiss, “the painted woman was simply a prostitute who brazenly advertised her immoral profession through rouge and kohl.”

    A Renegade History of the United States

  • She had dyed yellow hair and white powdered skin and black kohl drawn under and above her pale eyes.

    Three Stages of Amazement

  • The children are some of the most beautiful children I have met, with big soulful eyes, tiny babies with black kohl around their eyes apparently in order to ward off evil spirits making them appear even more wide eyed.

    Ashley Jensen: Ashley Jensen's Save the Children Diary - Delhi, India, September 2011

  • It's true that beauty can be toxic, as was a characteristic of the lead-laden kohl eyeliner worn back then.

    Paul Venoit: Smokey Eyes Still Smolder Thousands of Years Later

  • Play up eyes with liner and strong lashesClassic black liner — pencil, gel, felt tip or kohl — works for everyone, every time, says Corynne Corbett, beauty director of Essence magazine.

    5 easy updates for a beautiful you this autumn

  • Once the false lashes are on, rim the top and bottom lash line with a kohl pencil.

    Napoleon Perdis: Le Freak, C'est Chic: Last-Minute Halloween Makeup Tips

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  • "Who exactly are the Afghan insurgents? Every suicide attack and kidnapping is usually attributed to 'the Taliban'. In reality, however, the insurgency is far from monolithic. There are the shadowy, kohl-eyed mullahs and head-bobbing religious students, of course, but there are also erudite university students, poor, illiterate farmers, and veteran anti-Soviet commanders."
    - Anand Gopal, 'Who Are the Taliban? The Afghan War Deciphered', tomdispatch.com, 4 Dec 2008.

    December 5, 2008