The word chemistry comes from the word alchemy which was an earlier set of practices that encompassed elements of chemistry, metallurgy, philosophy, astrology, astronomy, mysticism and medicine. It is often seen as linked to the quest to turn lead or another common starting material into gold. Alchemy, which was practiced around 330, is the study of the composition of waters, movement, growth, embodying, disembodying, drawing the spirits from bodies and bonding the spirits within bodies (Zosimos). An alchemist was called a 'chemist' in popular speech, and later the suffix "-ry" was added to this to describe the art of the chemist as "chemistry".
The word alchemy in turn is derived from the Arabic word al-kīmīā (الکیمیاء). In origin, the term is borrowed from the Greek χημία or χημεία. This may have Egyptian origins since al-kīmīā is derived from the Greek χημία, which is in turn derived from the word Chemi or Kimi, which is the ancient name of Egypt in Egyptian. Alternately, al-kīmīā may derive from χημεία, meaning "cast together"
In retrospect, the definition of chemistry has changed over time, as new discoveries and theories add to the functionality of the science. The term "chymistry", in the view of noted scientist Robert Boyle in 1661, meant the subject of the material principles of mixed bodies. In 1663 the chemist Christopher Glaser described "chymistry" as a scientific art, by which one learns to dissolve bodies, and draw from them the different substances on their composition, and how to unite them again, and exalt them to a higher perfection
The 1730 definition of the word "chemistry", as used by Georg Ernst Stahl, meant the art of resolving mixed, compound, or aggregate bodies into their principles; and of composing such bodies from those principles. In 1837, Jean-Baptiste Dumas considered the word "chemistry" to refer to the science concerned with the laws and effects of molecular forces. This definition further evolved until, in 1947, it came to mean the science of substances: their structure, their properties, and the reactions that change them into other substances - a characterization accepted by Linus Pauling. More recently, in 1998, Professor Raymond Chang broadened the definition of "chemistry" to mean the study of matter and the changes it undergoes
Early civilizations, such as the Egyptians Babylonians, Indians amassed practical knowledge concerning the arts of metallurgy, pottery and dyes, but didn't develop a systematic theory.
A basic chemical hypothesis first emerged in Classical Greece with the theory of four elements as propounded definitively by Aristotle stating that fire, air, earth and water were the fundamental elements from which everything is formed as a combination. Greek atomism dates back to 440 BC, arising in works by philosophers such as Democritus and Epicurus. In 50 BC, the Roman philosopher Lucretius expanded upon the theory in his book De rerum natura (On The Nature of Things). Unlike modern concepts of science, Greek atomism was purely philosophical in nature, with little concern for empirical observations and no concern for chemical experiments.
In the Hellenistic world the art of alchemy first proliferated, mingling magic and occultism into the study of natural substances with the ultimate goal of transmuting elements into gold and discovering the elixir of eternal life. Alchemy was discovered and practised widely throughout the Arab world after the Muslim conquests, and from there, diffused into medieval and Renaissance Europe through Latin translations