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a type of tree or shrub with an edible fruit, 1550s, from German cornel-baum, from Old High German cornul, from Medieval Latin cornolium, from French cornouille, from Vulgar Latin *cornuculum, from Latin cornum "cornel-cherry," perhaps related to Greek kerasos "cherry." Old English also had borrowed the Latin word, in corntreow. The plant was noted for its hard wood, favored by the ancients for making shafts of spears and arrows.