One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
The root of the either of two plants of the genus Rubia used to produce the red dye madder, wild madder, R. peregrina, and common madder, R. tinctoria.
Mid 18th century; earliest use found in De Re Rustica. From French alizari, commercial name of the madder root from modern Greek αλιζάρι madder, apparently from ριζάρι, in the same sense (from ρίζα root (ancient Greek ῥίζα: see rhizo-) + -αρι, suffix forming diminutives), with prosthetic vowel and dissimilation of consonants, perhaps also influenced by άλικος (adjective) scarlet (from Turkish al (adjective) scarlet, (noun) scarlet colour + modern Greek -ικος).
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