Etymology
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acanthus (n.)
Origin and meaning of acanthus

type of tall herb or shrub native to the Mediterranean regions, 1660s, from Latin acanthus, name of the plant, from Greek akanthos, from akē "point, thorn" (from PIE root *ak- "be sharp, rise (out) to a point, pierce") + anthos "flower" (see anther). So called for its large spiny leaves. A conventionalized form of the leaf is used in Corinthian capitals. Related: Acanthaceous.

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parsley (n.)

biennial garden-herb, originally from the eastern Mediterranean; its aromatic leaves are used for flavoring and as a garnish; late 14c., a merger of Old English petersilie and Old French peresil (13c., Modern French persil), both from Medieval Latin petrosilium, an unexplained alteration of Latin petroselinum, from Greek petroselinon "rock-parsley," from petros "rock, stone" (see petrous) + selinon "celery" (see celery).

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weed (n.)

"plant not valued for use or beauty," Old English weod, uueod "grass, herb, weed," from Proto-Germanic *weud- (source also of Old Saxon wiod, East Frisian wiud), of unknown origin. Also applied to trees that grow abundantly. Meaning "tobacco" is from c. 1600; that of "marijuana" is from 1920s. The chemical weed-killer is attested by 1885.

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moly (n.)

1570s, fabulous magical herb with white flowers and black root, given by Hermes to Odysseus as protection against Circe's sorcery, from Greek mōly, a word of of unknown and probably foreign origin. Beekes says probably Pre-Greek, and adds, "All proposed IE etymologies (see Frisk) have to be rejected." The plant itself has been variously identified.

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grass (n.)

Old English græs, gærs "herb, plant, grass," from Proto-Germanic *grasan (source also of Old Frisian gers "grass, turf, kind of grass," Old Norse, Old Saxon, Dutch, Old High German, German, Gothic gras, Swedish gräs"grass"), which, according to Watkins, is from PIE *ghros- "young shoot, sprout," from root *ghre- "to grow, become green," thus related to grow and green, but not to Latin grāmen "grass, plant, herb." But Boutkan considers grāmen the only reliable cognate and proposes a substrate origin.

As a color name (especially grass-green, Old English græsgrene) by c. 1300. Sense of "marijuana" is recorded by 1932, American English. The grass skirt worn by people native to tropical regions is mentioned by 1874; the warning to keep off the grass by 1843 (in New York City's Central Park). Grass-fed of cattle, etc., (opposed to stall-fed) is from 1774.

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anther (n.)

1550s, "medical extract of flowers," from French anthère or Modern Latin anthera "a medicine extracted from a flower," from Greek anthera, fem. of antheros "flowery, blooming," from anthos "flower," from PIE root *andh- "to bloom" (source also of Sanskrit andhas "herb," Armenian and "field," Middle Irish ainder "young girl," Welsh anner "young cow"). The botanical sense of "polliniferous part of a stamen" attested by 1791.

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lettuce (n.)

garden herb extensively cultivated for use as a salad, late 13c., letuse, probably somehow from Old French laitues, plural of laitue "lettuce" (cognate with Spanish lechuga, Italian lattuga), from Latin lactuca "lettuce," from lac (genitive lactis) "milk" (from PIE root *g(a)lag- "milk"); so called for the milky juice of the plant. Old English had borrowed the Latin word as lactuce.

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hyssop (n.)

Old English ysope, from Irish Latin hysopus (Medieval Latin ysopus), from Greek hyssopos, a plant of Palestine, used in Jewish purification rites, from Hebrew 'ezobh (compare Syriac zupha, Arabic zufa). Since Old English the word has been used both of a small, bushy, aromatic herb native to southern Europe and the Biblical hyssop, a different plant, used in purification rituals, variously identified.

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pound (v.)

Middle English pounen, "pulverize (a herb or an ingredient of a medicine or perfume), grind (grain)," from Old English punian "crush by beating, pulverize, beat, bruise," from West Germanic *puno- (source also of Low German pun, Dutch puin "fragments"). With unetymological -d- from 16c. Meaning "to beat, strike, punch (someone)" is from early 14c. Sense of "beat or thrash as with the fists or a heavy instrument" is by 1790. Related: Pounded; pounding.

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tansy (n.)

perennial herb native to northern Eurasia, mid-13c., from Old French tanesie (13c., Modern French tanaisie), from Vulgar Latin *tanaceta (neuter plural mistaken for fem. singular), from Late Latin tanacetum "wormwood," from shortened form of Greek athanasia "immortality," from athanatos "immortal," from a- "not," privative prefix, + thanatos "death" (see thanatology). So called probably for its persistence. English folklore associates it with pregnancy, either as an aid to contraception or to provoke miscarriage.

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