One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Of, relating to, or resembling Lake Serbonis, a shallow lagoon in north-eastern Egypt, variously described in antiquity as being surfaced with sand, surrounded by marshland, or boggy and partly dry. Frequently used allusively to refer something (especially a situation or predicament) from which it is difficult to extricate oneself, now especially in "Serbonian bog".
Early 17th century; earliest use found in Joshua Sylvester (d. 1618), poet and translator. From classical Latin Sirbonis (Pliny; in post-classical Latin also Serbonis, Syrbonis) and its etymon ancient Greek Σερβωνίς (in Hellenistic Greek also Σιρβωνίς) + -an.
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