One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Originally: any of several common European sowthistles, especially prickly sowthistle, Sonchus asper. In later use also (in form Sonchus): a genus of the family Asteraceae (Compositae) comprising the sowthistles, which are herbaceous plants and shrubs native to Eurasia, tropical Africa, and Australasia, typically having deeply cut leaves and yellow, dandelion-like flower heads, and containing milky latex; (also sonchus) any plant of this genus.
Mid 16th century; earliest use found in William Bullein (c1515–1576), physician. From classical Latin soncus (also soncos, in post-classical Latin also sonchus, sonchos) from ancient Greek σόγχος sowthistle, of unknown origin.
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