Belief in fairies, as in Midsummer Night’s Dream, has no roots in Old English, so all talk about good folk’s glove(s) lacks foundation. Symbolism of the Peony Flower. Your email address will not be published. In addition to what was said before, it may be reminded that these flowers are called in Teviotdale [Scotland] witches’ thimbles, agreeing partly with the Welsh; the witches, however, taking the place of the fairies.”. Fireweed is an important plant for honey producers as it attracts the bees and hummingbirds as … But, if “foxglove” refers to a different plant then almost nothing else that you have written makes any sense, because you then seem to absolutely assume that “foxglove” refers to Digitalis purpurea. The common name larkspur is shared between perennial Delphinium species and annual species of the genus Consolida. Anatoly Liberman's column on word origins, The Oxford Etymologist, appears on the OUPblog each Wednesday. And we know dog rose and wolfsbane, to mention just a few oddities. Derived from the Greek words "anti," meaning like, and "rhin," meaning nose, antirrhinum, the snapdragon's botanical name, is a fitting description of this snout-shaped flower.While their actual origin is unknown, it's believed that snapdragons were originally wildflowers in Spain and Italy. Walter W. Skeat broke many a spear defending the simplest etymology (foxglove is fox + glove), but neither he nor anyone else has been able to explain how the Anglo-Saxons came by this name: why fox? Overview Information Foxglove is a plant. Native to Western and Central Europe, the foxglove is now naturalized all over. The idea to trace foxglove to folk’s (or folks’) glove is relatively recent. It’s thought the ‘glove’ part of the name is simply due to the flowers looking like glove fingers. Yet, it is easily understood. Digitalis is an example of a drug derived from a plant that was formerly used by herbalists; herbalists have largely abandoned its use because of its narrow therapeutic index and the difficulty of determining the amount of active drug in herbal preparations. The Norwegian for foxglove is revebjælle or revebjølle (one letter in the middle is missing from Prior’s form). Digitopolis, it […], “It was such even in Old English (foxes glofa, though the name seems to have been applied to a different plant), so that nothing has been ‘corrupted,’”. http://bit.ly/dqWnQQ #etymology […], […] Last week I wrote that one day I would reproduce some memorable statements from Skeat’s letters to the editors. They are great garden plants for shady borders and woodland gardens. But eventually, its administration was standardized, an extract was made, and digitalis—as it … The Leicester-based energy supplier now partners with Ørsted – a global leader in offshore wind energy from Denmark. Foxglove is a native of Europe. Foxglove PLANT: "foxglove" is the common name for plants from the digitalis species. If you did not have any acute symptoms at the time, it is unlikely you have ... Read More. He chose as his perennial target was the inability of his countrymen to understand that etymology is a science rather than mildly intelligent guesswork. Description Foxglove is a source of digitalis prescribed by doctors to strengthen the heart and regulate its beat. glee), designated the sound of musical instruments, so that the ringing of bells should be dismissed as irrelevant. This day has arrived. Featured image: Foxglove. The Foxglove derives its common name from the shape of the flowers resembling the finger of a glove. Plant taxonomy classifies the most commonly grown foxglove plants as Digitalis purpurea. Let’s learn more about foxglove flower history. It may have gained popularity after the publication of the book English Etymologies by William Henry Fox (!) Or subscribe to articles in the subject area by email or RSS, […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Carrie Lucas, Lauren. R. C. A. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide. The Latin name was given by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1753 because, much more straightforwardly, he thought the flowers looked like the fingertips of gloves. So, this holiday season, we created a giving campaign for two of our favorite non-profits who are working to help put food on the tables of hungry families across the U.S. and around the world. Basil is a member of the large mint family, or Lamiaceae family, along with other culinary herbs like rosemary, sage, and even lavender. Send your etymology question to him care of blog@oup.com; he’ll do his best to avoid responding with “origin unknown.” Subscribe to Anatoly Liberman’s weekly etymology articles via email or RSS. To my regret, no Scandinavian dictionary I have consulted discusses the Norwegian word. He wrote: “… [to us] such names as fox-glove and hare-bell seem senseless, and many efforts, more ingenious than well directed, have been made to evade the evidence. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. It is amusing what fierce battles have been fought over the origin of the word foxglove. Most types of foxglove plants are grouped with the biennials in the field of botany. Isoplexis is part of the same family as foxglove (scrophulariaceae); in fact it was once classified under the genus digitalis. The Latin name, Digitalis, means 'finger-like' and refers to the tubular flowers of the Foxglove. How did it get its name? A self-educated man in everything that concerned the history of Germanic, he became the greatest expert in Old and Middle English and an incomparable etymologist. A disputed but appealing origin for the name was advanced by William Henry Fox Talbot, who proposed that the whimsical ye […], […] telling me, for example, about a visit of a fox in the correspondent’s garden (in connection with my post on foxglove). 1. 0. Old Engl. In Dumfriesshire (south-central Scotland), foxglove is called tod-tail, and tod means “fox.” The second element poses no problems, for the bells of this plant bear some resemblance to fingers. Among other things, Skeat produced an impressive list of Old English plant names with obscure references to animals in them, for example, fowl’s bean, cow-slip (not cow’s lip! Even The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology cited the nonexistent revbjelde (from the OED), and I see it occasionally surfacing in the Internet (The Century Dictionary did much better). This plant contains a compound that has been extracted and named digitalin, which today is used as a heart medication that regulates heart rate and the contractility of the heart. Beware of etymologists who pepper their explanations with no doubt, undoubtedly, obviously, and the like. Origins of Basil . The honey bees and carpenter bees love it, as does a single earwig, which apparently considers it its "hidey hole." […] fairies… little folk’s fingers… folk’s… fox… foxgloves… it’s a well-known etymologist’s nightmare. “One of the queerest crazes in English etymology,” says Skeat, “is the love of paradox, which is often carried to such an extent that it is considered mean, if not despicable, to accept an etymology that is obvious.” He cited attempts to invent a clever explanation of foxglove as an instance of the “queer craze.” But, with due respect to the great scholar, it must be said that obvious etymologies are often wrong, that foxglove causes legitimate surprise, and that folk etymology is the result of speakers’ healthy rebellion against the impenetrability of the words we use (or the conventional, seemingly arbitrary nature of the sign, as linguists put it). Zeus had to transform the student into a beautiful flower when he showed more promise than his teacher and incurred his wrath. It earned its name because this plant is the first colonizer in the soil after forest fires. The puzzling part is fox-. The foxglove gets its name from the old Anglo-Saxon word “foxes-glew,” which means “fox music.” This is apparently because the flowers resemble an ancient hanging bell of the same name. The honey bees and carpenter bees love it, as does a single earwig, which apparently considers it its "hidey hole." The Latin name was given by the Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus in 1753 because, much more straightforwardly, he thought the flowers looked like the fingertips of gloves. Required fields are marked *. So let me repeat: foxglove does go back to a word that means exactly this (fox-glove), and all attempts to explain it as a “perversion” of some other compound or phrase are misguided, but the reason for endowing the flower with such an incomprehensible name has not been discovered. Some may say it’s a little bit too naturalized, as it’s labeled an “invasive and noxious weed” by the USDA. I never could get my head around that when I was a young 'un. Fischer Energy changed its name to Foxglove Energy. Talbot, the inventor of photography, to whom I have once referred in this blog, was a well-read and talented man, but it would have been better if he had not written a book on word origins. In England, only Murray, the editor of the OED, and Henry Sweet were his equals, and in Germany, only Eduard Sievers. The foxglove gets its name from the old Anglo-Saxon word “foxes-glew,” which means “fox music.” This is apparently because the flowers resemble an ancient hanging bell of the same name. It is also the name of the drug that comes from the toxins of Foxgloves and is prescribed for heart conditions. Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. foxesclofe has also been pressed into service, but cl- would not have yielded gl-. In 1880 there was 1 Foxglove family living in Arizona. Our Privacy Policy sets out how Oxford University Press handles your personal information, and your rights to object to your personal information being used for marketing to you or being processed as part of our business activities. How to install fix microsoft edge,just click this website windows edge not working sometime people can't use this web browser. Anatoly Liberman is the author of Word Origins And How We Know Them as well as An Analytic Dictionary of English Etymology: An Introduction. Oxford University Press'sAcademic Insights for the Thinking World. Asked By Wiki User. 2 doctors agree. See more about it below. Happy holidays from all of us at Gardening Know How. On the face of it, the word foxglove makes no sense, because foxes do without gloves and even without hands. It is worthy of remark, [note the comma!] What Is The Winter Solstice: First Day Of Winter History, Fresh-Cut Pine Tree Smell: Perfect Christmas Tree Memories, Norfolk Island Pine – The Perfect Christmas Tree. With our brand new eBook, featuring our favorite DIY projects for the whole family, we really wanted to create a way to not only show our appreciation for the growing Gardening Know How community, but also unite our community to help every one of our neighbors in need during these unprecedented times. These are chemicals that affect the heart. Now, it’s often grown as an ornamental, but back in the day it, like a lot of plants, it was a popular medicine used to treat everything from the common cold to insanity… despite the fact that it’s pretty darn poisonous. It’s even been known to cause heart and kidney problems. The common foxglove, Digitalis purpurea thrives in a shady spot in our yard. Also, at his time, the literary norm in Norway required that Norwegian words be spelled according to the rules of Danish orthography, and the Danish for bell is bjælde. Your email address will not be published. Talbot (1847). Guilty of what Shakespeare in Sonnet 62 called the sin of self-love, I particularly relish […], […] made a brief, unhelpful excursion into the etymology of digitalis then a Google search,  quickly led me to The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. Required fields are marked *. Foxgloves? It's uncertain how the name of the foxglove plant was derived, but there are two main theories. The Century Dictionary gives several names of the Digitalis: fox-fingers, ladies’ fingers, and even dead-men’s bells. Did you know? An echo of the once well-known tale, North Germanic or Classical? It was his father who had taken the Latin name of Linnaeus in keeping with the fashion of the day for scholarly or important people to choose a classical name, or to “Latinize the patronymic.” He had chosen the name in honor of the linden or lime trees which graced the family homestead. The company has not only changed its name - it’s also shifted its focus to renewable energy and now provides 100% renewable electricity that is sourced from wind farms. So those old doctors were onto something, but they would frequently accidentally kill their patients with their foxglove medicine, so for crying out loud, don’t cut yourself any leaves to do some DIY heart care. The second (and final) year, it develops a spike with blooms. Thus, a few wrong etymologies have been debunked, but what the sly fox has to do with the foxglove remains a mystery. 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