How Well Do You Know English Slang?
a poisonous plant, Old English (Kentish) hemlic, earlier hymlice, hymblice; of unknown origin. Liberman suggests from root hem- "poison," perhaps with the plant name suffix -ling or -ig. As the name of the poison derived from the plant, c.1600. The North American tree so called from 1776, from resemblance of its leaves to those of the plant.
(1.) Heb. rosh (Hos. 10:4; rendered "gall" in Deut. 29:18; 32:32; Ps. 69:21; Jer. 9:15; 23:15; "poison," Job 20:16; "venom," Deut. 32:33). "Rosh is the name of some poisonous plant which grows quickly and luxuriantly; of a bitter taste, and therefore coupled with wormwood (Deut. 29:18; Lam. 3:19). Hence it would seem to be not the hemlock cicuta, nor the colocynth or wild gourd, nor lolium darnel, but the poppy so called from its heads" (Gesenius, Lex.). (2.) Heb. la'anah, generally rendered "wormwood" (q.v.), Deut. 29:18, Text 17; Prov. 5:4; Jer. 9:15; 23:15. Once it is rendered "hemlock" (Amos 6:12; R.V., "wormwood"). This Hebrew word is from a root meaning "to curse," hence the accursed.