One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
The resinous secretion produced by lac insects; any of various preparations of this.
Mid 16th century; earliest use found in William Bullein (c1515–1576), physician. From gum + lac, apparently so called because natural lac (which is harvested from trees although produced by insects) is reminiscent of gum (which is a secretion of the tree itself).
gum lac/ˈɡʌm lak/
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