One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
nounEnglish Regional, Scottish, Northern
A hardy variety of barley grown mainly in northern England and Scotland. [Now considered to be one of the cultivated varieties of Hordeum vulgare subsp. vulgare, this type of barley was previously known as H. tetrastichum because it appears to have four rows of grains in the ear. barley-bigg, Scotch bigg: see the first elements. Recorded earliest in compounds.]
Late Middle English. From early Scandinavian (compare Old Icelandic bygg, Norn (Shetland) big, Old Swedish biug (Swedish bjugg), Old Danish biug (Danish byg) barley), cognate with Old English bēow barley, ultimately from the same Indo-European base as be.
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