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late 14c., a syrupy drink in which medicine was given, from Old French julep (14c.), from Medieval Latin julapium, from Arabic julab, from Persian gulab "rose water," from gul "rose" (related to Greek rhodon, Latin rosa) + ab "water," from PIE root *ap- (see water (n.1)). Sense of "alcoholic drink flavored with mint" is first recorded 1787, American English.