One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A genus of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), the members of which form dark slimy unbranched filaments, capable of a gliding or undulating motion, in various fresh and salt water habitats; (also) an organism of this genus. In pluralOscillatoriae also: a former natural order containing the genus Oscillatoria (corresponding in part to the modern order Oscillatoriales).
Early 19th century; earliest use found in The North American Review. From scientific Latin Oscillatoria, feminine of post-classical Latin oscillatorius.
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