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

  • n. A corrosive, fuming, volatile mixture of hydrochloric and nitric acids, used for testing metals and dissolving platinum and gold. Also called nitrohydrochloric acid.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A mixture of three parts concentrated hydrochloric acid to one part concentrated nitric acid.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. a very corrosive fuming yellow liquid consisting of nitric and hydrochloric acids. It has the power of dissolving gold, the “royal” metal.

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

  • n. a yellow fuming corrosive mixture of nitric and hydrochloric acid that dissolves metals (including gold)


New Latin aqua rēgia : Latin aqua, water + Latin rēgia, feminine of rēgius, royal (because it dissolves gold, the "royal metal”).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Latin aqua regia, royal water, so named because it is one of the few solvents capable of dissolving noble metals. (Wiktionary)


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  • Such a nice sounding phrase for what is actually extremely caustic stuff.

    December 14, 2007

  • I didn't know this one but was struck by its similarity to the Italian word "acquaragia" which is a solvent (basically turpentine) capable of dissolving paints and varnishes. The -ragia here comes from the Greek -rhagia meaning to break (cf. haemorrhage)

    December 14, 2007

  • A mixture of concentrated hydrochloric and nitric acid that can dissolve the royal metals gold and platinum, hence "royal water".

    November 4, 2007