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Any fermented liquor, such as wine, beer, or distilled liquor, that contains ethyl alcohol, or ethanol, as an intoxicating agent. When an alcoholic beverage is ingested, the alcohol is rapidly absorbed in the stomach and intestines because it does not undergo any digestive processes. It is distributed to the rest of the body through the blood and has a pronounced depressant action on the brain. Under the influence of alcohol, the drinker is less alert, less able to discern objects in the environment, slower in reacting to stimuli, and generally prone to sleep.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on alcoholic beverage, visit Britannica.com.
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