late 15c., pomendambre, "mix of aromatic herbs in a bag or perforated apple-shaped shell, carried or worn around the neck as a preservative against infection," from Old French pomme d'embre (13c.), from pome "apple" (from Latin pomum; see Pomona) + ambre "amber" (see amber). By mid-20c. the word was used for an orange stuck with cloves and hung in a wardrobe or placed in a drawer with clothing.
updated on August 25, 2020