One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Any of various locusts that have some red coloration (in early use frequently figurative); (in later use) specifically a large locust having a striped brown body with red markings at the base of the hindwings, Nomadacris septemfasciata, occasionally a serious pest in parts of sub-Saharan Africa.
2North American. The locust tree, Robinia pseudoacacia; the wood of this tree. Now rare.
Late 17th century; earliest use found in John Dryden (1631–1700), poet, playwright, and critic. From red + locust.
red locust/ˌrɛd ˈləʊkəst/
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