One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
The remains of calcareous red seaweeds (coralline rhodophytes), especially those occurring in deposits off the coast of Brittany, used as a source of lime by farmers; any of these seaweeds, belonging chiefly to the genus Lithothamnion.
Early 20th century; earliest use found in Encyclopaedia Britannica. From French maërl or its etymon Breton maerl, merl from Old French marle.
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