One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Originally: a principal constituent of tragacanth and other gums, having the property of swelling in water (now disused). Now: the water-soluble polysaccharide component of tragacanth.
Early 19th century; earliest use found in John Paris (bap. 1785, d. 1856), physician and author. From tragacanth + -in.
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