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.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘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).’
- 1.1astragalihistorical Small bones used as dice.
- ‘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.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘Worked astragali from the deposit may indicate that gaming or fortune-telling took place.’
- ‘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.’
2A plant of a genus that includes milk vetch.
Genus Astragalus, family Leguminosae
- ‘I'd also like to take antioxidant vitamins and the herbs astragalus and milk thistle to help prevent a recurrence, but my doctors disagree.’
- ‘However, people with lupus should avoid certain supplements, like alfalfa, which promotes inflammation, and immune stimulators, like astragalus and echinacea.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘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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