One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A piece or stick of boiled sugar resembling barley sugar, formerly used especially as a remedy for colds, or in treating other medical conditions. Usually in plural.
Late Middle English; earliest use found in Lanfranc's Science of Cirurgie. From Anglo-Norman and Middle French penide, penides (plural; mid 13th cent. in Old French as penides, 1272 as penidiés, penidiez (plural, in two Old French texts showing Italian influence); French † pénide; compare Old Occitan penis) and its etymon post-classical Latin penidium (usually in plural penidia) piece or stick of boiled sugar, used as a remedy from medieval Greek πενίδιον, πενίδια (frequent in Byzantine medical writers, e.g. Actuarius and Nicolaus Myrepsus), probably from Persian pānīd, pānīẕ sugar-candy, sweetmeat: see further Französisches Etymolog. Wörterbuch s.v. pānīd. Compare (from post-classical Latin or French) Spanish † penidie, Italian penidio, and also Middle Dutch penide, Middle Low German penīt, penid, Middle High German benīt.
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