1553 in this form; earlier jacinth (1230), from Gk. hyakinthos, probably ult. from a non-I.E. Mediterranean language. Used in ancient Greece of a blue gem, perhaps sapphire, and of a purple or deep red flower, but exactly which one is unknown (gladiolus, iris, and larkspur have been suggested). Fabled to have sprouted from the blood of Hyakinthos, youth beloved by Apollo and accidentally slain by him. The flower is said to have the letters "AI" or "AIAI" on its petals. The modern use in ref. to a flowering plant genus is from 1578.