The Alchemist (Coelho) Glossary
by Paulo Coelho
Glossary of Terms
AlchemyThe occult science which claims to be able to turn any common metal into gold.
BedouinNomadic tribes that live in the African desert.
BreastplateLarge metal plate worn on the chest as part of a suit of armor. It is used for self defense, but can also be decorative.
CaravanA group which travels through the desert. Travelers band together for mutual protection.
Language of the UniverseOmens, coincidences and dreams are the means by which the universe seeks to communicate. By remaining open to these omens, Santiago is able to learn more about the world and about himself.
LevanterThe name of the wind that blows off of Africa into Spain. So called because it comes from "the Levant." It is related to the conquest of Spain by the Moors. Santiago thinks that it brings the scent of exotic women and adventure.
MaktubAn Arabic word meaning "written." The shopkeeper uses it to refer to those thing preordained, or written, by Allah.
MoorSpanish and European name for the Arabs that ruled the Iberian peninsula for almost 500 years.
Personal LegendA Personal Legend is a true desire, which comes from the Soul of the Universe. This is different from other selfish desires in that the universe conspires to help you realize your personal legend. The story of The Alchemist is the story of Santiago realizing his Personal Legend.
SacristyRoom where the vestments of the church are kept.
SaharaThe desert that runs across the width of the African continent. Known for its size and its harshness.
ScarabA type of desert beetle which was sacred to the Ancient Egyptians. They believed that it symbolized the Sun and spiritual rebirth.
ShearTo cut, specifically the wool from a sheep.
SimumA wind which blows through the desert and destroys everything in its path. A very strong sandstorm.
Soul of the WorldA term which comes up repeatedly in the text, the Soul of the World is sometimes equated with God. It is a spiritual force that binds all of us together and governs all things and that speaks with us in the language of signs or omens.
The Elixir of LifeThe Elixir of Life is the liquid portion of the Master Work, the goal of all alchemists. The Elixir of Life heals diseases and grants long life when ingested. The Alchemist carries some in a flask through the desert.
The Master WorkThe Master Work is a term which refers, in alchemy, to the Elixir of Life and the Philosopher's Stone as a whole. The Master Work is the goal of all alchemists; the Alchemist has achieved it, but the Englishman is still seeking it.
The Philosophers StoneThe Philosophers Stone is the solid portion of the Master Work. The Philosopher's Stone has the ability to turn any metal into gold, an ability which the Alchemist uses to generate gold at the Coptic monastery in Egypt before taking his leave of Santiago.
Umim and Thummim
Two stones given to Santiago by Melchizedek. Melchizedek instructs Santiago to use them when he cannot read the omens of the world. These stones are drawn from a bag, with one signifying no and the other one signifying yes.
ZealExtreme enthusiasm, can sometimes be used pejoratively in the case of calling one a "zealot."
The Alchemist (Coelho) Essays and Related Content
- The Alchemist (Coelho): Major Themes
- The Alchemist (Coelho): Lesson Plan
- The Alchemist (Coelho): Questions
- The Alchemist (Coelho): Purchase the Novel and Related Material
- Paulo Coelho: Biography
- The Alchemist (Coelho) Summary
- About The Alchemist (Coelho)
- Character List
- Glossary of Terms
- Major Themes
- Quotes and Analysis
- Summary and Analysis of the Prologue
- Summary and Analysis of Part I.I
- Summary and Analysis of Part I.II
- Summary and Analysis of Part II.I
- Summary and Analysis of Part II.II
- Summary and Analysis of Part II.III
- Summary and Analysis of Epilogue
- Paulo Coelho's Reception in Brazil
- Paulo Coelho Photo
- Related Links on The Alchemist (Coelho)
- Suggested Essay Questions
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 1
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 2
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 3
- Test Yourself! - Quiz 4
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