Word Origin & History
1825, from Mod.L. Petunia (1789), from Fr. petun, an obs. word for "tobacco plant," from Port. petum, from Guarani (Paraguay) pety. It has a botanical affinity to the tobacco plant. Pety first recorded (in Ger.) as bittin; it survives as the regular word for tobacco only in Breton butun, but it was in
use in Eng. in 17c.
"Many haue giuen it the name, Petum, whiche is in deede the proper name of the Hearbe, as they whiche haue traueiled that countrey can tell." [John Frampton, transl. of Nicolás Monardes' "Joyful Newes Oute of the Newe Founde Worlde," 1577]