the volatilization or evaporation and subsequent condensation of a liquid, as when water is boiled in a retort and the steam is condensed in a cool receiver.
the purification or concentration of a substance, the obtaining of the essence or volatile properties contained in it, or the separation of one substance from another, by such a process.
a product of distilling; distillate.
the act or fact of distilling or the state of being distilled.

1350–1400; Middle English distillacioun (< Anglo-French) < Latin distillātiōn- (stem of distillātiō), equivalent to distillāt(us) distillate + -iōn- -ion

distillatory [dih-stil-uh-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee] , distillative [dih-stil-uh-tiv] , adjective
nondistillation, noun
redistillation, noun
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
distillation (ˌdɪstɪˈleɪʃən)
1.  the act, process, or product of distilling
2.  the process of evaporating or boiling a liquid and condensing its vapour
3.  See also fractional distillation purification or separation of mixture by using different evaporation rates or boiling points of their components
4.  the process of obtaining the essence or an extract of a substance, usually by heating it in a solvent
5.  another name for distillate
6.  a concentrated essence

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Word Origin & History

late 14c., "process of distilling," from L. distillationem, noun of action from distillare (see distill). Meaning "product of distilling" is from 1590s.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

distillation dis·til·la·tion (dĭs'tə-lā'shən)

  1. The evaporation and subsequent collection of a liquid by condensation as a means of purification.

  2. The extraction of the volatile components of a mixture by the condensation and collection of the vapors that are produced as the mixture is heated.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
distillation   (dĭs'tə-lā'shən)  Pronunciation Key 
A method of separating a substance that is in solution from its solvent or of separating a liquid from a mixture of liquids having different boiling points. The liquid to be separated is evaporated (as by boiling), and its vapor is then collected after it condenses. Distillation is used to separate fresh water from a salt solution and gasoline from petroleum. ◇ The condensed vapor, which is the purified liquid, is called the distillate.
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Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

distillation definition

In chemistry, the separating of the constituents of a liquid by boiling it and then condensing the vapor that results. Distillation can be used to purify water or other substances, or to remove one component from a complex mixture, as when gasoline is distilled from crude oil or alcohol from a mash. When water is purified by distillation, it is boiled in a container, and the steam is sent into cooling tubes. The steam is condensed and then collected as purified water in a second container. The impurities in the water are left behind in the first container and can be discarded.

Note: Figuratively, “distillation” is the process of retaining the essential features or components of something while removing nonessentials: “This book represents knowledge distilled from decades of research.”
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
But the strength of the book lies in his distillation of a lifetime's research
  and reflection into a single prodigious volume.
Standard distillation or filtration techniques could extract the alcohol from
  the water.
Home distillation of liquor used to be the province of backwoods bootleggers.
The purpose of dissent is not only expression but the distillation and
  consolidation of public will.
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