Tag Archives: vegetal
marguerite

marguerite

  ox-eye daisy flower photograph: Wikimedia Commons/Tony Wills       Borrowed from French in the early 17th century, marguerite originally denoted the common daisy. It is now another term for the ox-eye daisy; also called moon daisy, this plant has large white flowers with yellow centres (scientific name: Leucanthemum vulgare, family Compositae).   The same […]

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pansy

pansy

      The name pansy was originally applied to the heartsease (Viola tricolor, family Violaceae), now wild pansy, which has given rise to hybrids from which most garden pansies were developed (genus Viola, family Violaceae). This name is a borrowing from Middle French pensée, a transferred use of pensée, thought, the flower being considered […]

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rosemary

rosemary

  Rosmarinus officinalis - Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen (1887), published by Franz Eugen Köhler     Rosemary is an evergreen aromatic shrub of the mint family, native to southern Europe. The narrow leaves are used as a culinary herb, in perfumery, and as an emblem of remembrance. (Scientific name: Rosmarinus officinalis, family Labiatae)   The word is apparently a folk-etymological […]

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sesame

sesame

  Sesamum indicum in Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen (1887), published by Franz Eugen Köhler     Sesame is a tall annual herbaceous plant of tropical and subtropical areas of the Old World, cultivated for its oil-rich seeds. Its scientific name is Sesamum indicum (family Pedaliaceae). The word sesame is from Latin sesamum, also sisamum, from Greek σήσαμον […]

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quince

quince

  Cydonia oblonga in Köhler’s Medizinal-Pflanzen (1887), published by Franz Eugen Köhler     The word quince was originally a plural. The singular forms were coyn, quoyne and quyne, from Old French forms such as coin and cuyn (in modern French coing, the g is mute). It is probably via its use as a collective singular that quince has become a countable […]

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marmalade

marmalade

  photograph: bbc.co.uk     According to folk etymology, when feeling out of sorts, Mary Queen of Scots could only eat one thing: a conserve made of oranges, which was subsequently named after her. Among the numerous zany versions of the story, the following etymological gem appeared in The Gay Galliard: the Love Story of […]

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peach

peach

       The word peach is from Anglo-Norman and Middle French forms such as pesche (modern French pêche). The French name is in turn from post-classical Latin persica, alteration of classical Latin persicum, short for Persicum malum, literally Persian pome. (The scientific name of the peach is Prunus persica.) Latin malum is often translated […]

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in a nutshell

in a nutshell

      MEANING   In a few words; concisely stated, encapsulated.     ORIGIN   The phrase was originally an allusion to a copy of Homer’s Iliad which was supposedly small enough to be enclosed in the shell of a nut. The story was told by the Roman statesman and scholar Pliny the Elder […]

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good wine needs no bush

good wine needs no bush

  Bacchino malato (Young sick Bacchus) – circa 1593 – self-portrait by Caravaggio     The proverb good wine needs no bush means something that is good does not need to be advertised.   The bush in this sense of advertisement is the branch or bunch of ivy that used to be hung up as a […]

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salad days

salad days

  Antony and Cleopatra (1885), by Lawrence Alma-Tadema (1836-1912)     MEANING   The expression one’s salad days means the period when one is young and inexperienced. In American English, it has recently shifted sense: it now refers to the peak or heyday of something.   ORIGIN   This expression was coined by Shakespeare in […]

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