anemone (n.)

flowering plant genus, 1550s, from French anemone (16c., corrected from Old French anemoine) and directly from Latin anemone, from Greek anemonē "wind flower," literally "daughter of the wind," from anemos "wind" (cognate with Latin anima, from PIE root *ane- "to breathe") + -one feminine patronymic suffix.

According to Asa Gray it was so called because it was thought to open only when the wind blows. Klein suggests the flower name perhaps originally is from Hebrew (compare na'aman, in nit'e na'amanim, literally "plants of pleasantness," in Isaiah xvii.10, from na'em "was pleasant").

In zoology, the word was applied to a type of sea creature from 1773 (probably short for sea anemone, which is by 1742). Related: Anemonic. Greek akalēphē "sea-anemone," also "stinging nettle," is of uncertain origin.

Sea anemones are eaten, fried in oil, throughout the Mediterranean and in northern France, under such names as cul de cheval, cul d'âne, pisseuse, etc. ... The Abbé Dicquemare (Phil. Trans. lxv, p. 219, 1775) considers the large A. crassicornis the best of its kind; it should be boiled in sea-water, when it becomes firm and palatable and tastes like warm crab. It fetched a high price in Bordeaux in Rondelet's time. [D'Arcy Thompson, "A Glossary of Greek Fishes"]

updated on September 21, 2022