type of plant typically found in cold regions, late 14c., from Old French saxifrage (13c.), from Late Latin saxifraga, name of a kind of herb, from Latin saxifraga herba, literally "a rock-breaking herb," from saxifragus "stonebreaking," from saxum "stone, rock" + frag-, root of frangere "to break" (from PIE root *bhreg- "to break"). Pliny says the plant was so called because it was given to dissolve gallstones, but a more likely explanation is that it was so called because it grows in crevices in rocks. (Latin used different words for "stone" and "gallstone" -- saxum and calculus). Related: Saxifragaceous.
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