saxifrage

saxifrage

[sak-suh-frij]
noun
any plant of the genus Saxifraga, certain species of which grow wild in the clefts of rocks, other species of which are cultivated for their flowers.


Origin:
1400–50; late Middle English < Latin saxifraga (herba) stone-breaking (herb), equivalent to saxi-, combining form of saxum stone + -fraga, feminine of -fragus breaking; see fragile

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World English Dictionary
saxifrage (ˈsæksɪˌfreɪdʒ)
 
n
any saxifragaceous plant of the genus Saxifraga, characterized by smallish white, yellow, purple, or pink flowers
 
[C15: from Late Latin saxifraga, literally: rock-breaker (probably alluding to its ability to dissolve kidney stones), from Latin saxum rock + frangere to break]

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Word Origin & History

saxifrage
1373, from O.Fr. saxifrage (13c.), from L.L. saxifraga "kind of herb," from L. saxifraga herba, lit. "a rock-breaking herb," from saxifragus "stonebreaking," from saxum "stone, rock" + frag-, root of frangere "to break" (see fraction). 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 two different words for "stone" and "gallstone" -- saxum and calculus).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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