One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
An impure alkali formerly made from the ashes of burned plants, especially saltworts.
- ‘To make matters worse at the time he succeeded to the ownership of Barra, the Government reduced the duty on imported barilla, knocking out the prop which kept the kelping industry afloat.’
- ‘Their ash (sometimes called barilla, the common name for one of them, Salsola soda) was used in the production of glass; hence the name ‘glasswort’.’
- ‘Halogeton sativus is one of the plants from which barilla was made.’
Early 17th century: from Spanish barrilla, diminutive of barra ‘bar’.
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