One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Slang The plant hemp (used with humorous allusion to the use of hempen rope for hanging people).
2US. Either of two speedwells, Veronica agrestis and V. peregrina, reputed to cure scrofula (tuberculosis of the lymph nodes of the neck). Now rare.
Mid 16th century; earliest use found in William Bullein (c1515–1576), physician. From neck + weed.
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