One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Zoologyanother term for talus (ankle bone)
- ‘Next to the pelvic bone was a much smaller bone, an astragalus (ankle bone), also of an elephant.’
- ‘Most of what I found were unidentifiable broken sections of long bones, but I did find a bird femur (thigh bone) and a nice rodent astragalus (ankle bone).’
- ‘In the hind limb of these species, the bones of the ankle are also reduced in number, and the astragalus becomes the main weight-bearing bone.’
- 1.1astragalihistorical Small bones used as dice.
- ‘The astragalus, a precursor to the die made from the knuckle bone of animals, was found in archeological sites of early peoples.’
- ‘Gradually, over thousands of years, astragali were replaced by dice, and the latter became the most common means of generating random events.’
- ‘These astragali have four clearly defined surfaces and were probably the antecedents of the ordinary six-faced cube or die, specimens of which are datable as far back as 3000 B.C.’
- ‘It might have been supposed that, after playing with astragali, dice, and cards for several thousand years, man would have arrived relatively early at some concept of the laws of chance.’
- ‘Worked astragali from the deposit may indicate that gaming or fortune-telling took place.’
2A plant of a genus that includes milk vetch.
Genus Astragalus, family Leguminosae
- ‘For centuries, the Chinese have used astragalus, or milk vetch root, to treat ailments by strengthening the body's natural defenses.’
- ‘Nutritional supplements like echinacea, goldenseal, elderberry and astragalus have long been recognized in folk medicine as cold and flu remedies.’
- ‘However, people with lupus should avoid certain supplements, like alfalfa, which promotes inflammation, and immune stimulators, like astragalus and echinacea.’
- ‘I'd also like to take antioxidant vitamins and the herbs astragalus and milk thistle to help prevent a recurrence, but my doctors disagree.’
- ‘Alternative remedies such as echinacea and astragalus support the immune system.’
Mid 16th century: via Latin from Greek astragalos ‘ankle bone, moulding’, also the name of a plant.
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