One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
The fruit of the common buckthorn, Rhamnus cathartica.
Late 16th century; earliest use found in Henry Lyte (1529–1607), botanist and antiquary. From the name of the river Rhine + berry, after early modern Dutch rijnbesie; the first element in the Dutch word probably in fact shows a folk-etymological substitution of the river name for Middle Dutch, early modern Dutch rein ridge forming the boundary of a field, boundary marker; compare similarly German Rheinbeere beside Rainbeere.
Rhine berry/ˈrʌɪn b(ə)ri/
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