noun, plural centauries.
any of various plants belonging to the genus Centaurium, of the gentian family, having clusters of small pink or red flowers.
any of several other plants of the genera Centaurea and Sabatia.

before 1000; Middle English, Old English centaurie < Medieval Latin centauria, apparently < Greek kentaúria, neuter plural (taken in ML as feminine singular) of kentaúrion, noun use of neuter of kentaúrios (adj.), equivalent to kéntaur(os) centaur + -ios adj. suffix; said to be in reference to the centaur Chiron, known for his knowledge of medicinal plants

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World English Dictionary
centaury (ˈsɛntɔːrɪ)
n , pl -ries
1.  any Eurasian plant of the genus Centaurium, esp C. erythraea, having purplish-pink flowers and formerly believed to have medicinal properties: family Gentianaceae
2.  any plant of the genus Centaurea, which includes the cornflower and knapweed: family Compositae (composites)
[C14: ultimately from Greek Kentauros the Centaur; from the legend that Chiron the Centaur divulged its healing properties]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

small plant with red flowers (now usually erythraea Centaureum), late 14c., from M.L. centaurea, from L. centaureum, from Gk. kentaureion, from kentauros "centaur" (see centaur), so called because the plant's medicinal properties were discovered by Chiron the centaur. Ger.
Tausendgüldenkraut is based on a mistranslation of the L. word, as if from centum + aurum.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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