One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A low-growing clover-like plant with three-lobed leaves, used as the national emblem of Ireland.
The shamrock of legend has been identified with a number of different plants in the family Leguminosae, in particular the lesser yellow trefoil (Trifolium minus)
- ‘Green also became associated with this feast day (St. Patrick's Day) because it is the colour of spring, Ireland and the shamrock.’
- ‘Shannon Airport would be promoted using the shamrock, ‘the most significant symbol of Ireland in the minds of people throughout the world.’’
- ‘According to legend the shamrock, with its three leaves on the single stalk, was used by St. Patrick to explain the mystery of the Christian Trinity to the pagan Irish.’
- ‘Irish heritage campaigners delighted as city street vendors begin selling small bundles of old fashioned fresh shamrocks for £2.50.’
- ‘The vegetable gardens spread out from the house, laced with marigolds and a purple ground cover that looks like shamrocks: trebol, in Spanish.’
- 1.1 A shamrock leaf.
- ‘Decorated with intricate knot work, a harp and a shamrock, the emblems of the brigade, and with a bronze Irish wolfhound at the foot of the cross, it is reckoned by many to be the most beautiful memorial on the battlefield.’
- ‘Among these borrowed motifs are fleurs-de-lis, shamrocks, and various other flora, including, after 1876, the Canadian maple leaf.’
- ‘The national emblem is a carved Irish shamrock adorning Government House, and the island's flag and crest show a woman with a cross and harp.’
- ‘It also explains why the shamrock is the national symbol of Ireland.’
- ‘There were paper chains hung from the window-frames, construction paper shamrocks Scotch-taped to the glass.’
Late 16th century: from Irish seamróg ‘trefoil’ (diminutive of seamar ‘clover’).
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