One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A blue mould that is common on food, being added to some cheeses and used sometimes to produce penicillin.
- ‘It's been more than 70 years since Alexander Fleming discovered that the mold fungus penicillium was effective against bacteria.’
- ‘Identifying penicillia is relatively easy for a trained microbiologist; certifying that the substance ‘dissolving’ bacteria on petri dishes is true penicillin is quite a different matter.’
- ‘The mould turned out to be a variety called penicillium, and the discovery led to the first antibiotics.’
- ‘This is because the cheese maker has to let the air inside the cheese for the penicillium (the blue cheese mold) to develop.’
- ‘Since 1941, when the first bacterial infection was cured with a concoction derived from the fungus penicillium, we've depended on antibiotics to be there when we're sick.’
Mid 19th century: modern Latin, from Latin penicillus ‘paintbrush’ (because of the brushlike fruiting bodies).
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