One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Originally: the redcurrant bush or (with distinguishing word) the blackcurrant or whitecurrant bush (now rare). In later use (chiefly Botany): (in form Ribes) a genus of small, often spiny shrubs of the family Grossulariaceae, including species cultivated for their berries (especially the gooseberry, R. uva-crispa, the redcurrant, R. rubrum, and the blackcurrant, R. nigrum) or for their flowers (especially the flowering currant, R. sanguineum); (also ribes) a shrub of this genus, especially one grown for its flowers.
Late Middle English (in an earlier sense). From post-classical Latin ribes sorrel, currant from Arabic rībās sorrel, kind of rhubarb, currant from Persian rībāj, rebās, rewāj, rewās, etc., sorrel, rhubarb.
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