One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Mid 16th century; earliest use found in Robert Crowley (d. 1588), author, Church of England clergyman, and printer. From post-classical Latin putrificat-, past participial stem of putrificare to cause to rot (1381 in a British source; from putrificus causing decay (1540 (although this is apparently first attested later); from classical Latin puter (also putris) rotten + -ficus); compare classical Latin putrefacere) + -ion. Compare Middle French putrification, Spanish putrificación.
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