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1751, earlier -pot-ashes (1640s), a loan-translation of older Dutch potaschen, literally "pot ashes" (16c.); so called because it was originally obtained by soaking wood ashes in water and evaporating the mixture in an iron pot. Cf. German Pottasche, Danish potaske, Swedish pottaska, all also from Dutch. See also potassium. French potasse (1570s), Italian potassa are Germanic loan-words. The original plural was pot-ashes.