One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A fertile black soil rich in humus, with a lighter lime-rich layer beneath. Such soils typically occur in temperate grasslands such as the Russian steppes and North American prairies.
- ‘It contains soil types, such as podzols, chernozems, brown earths, chestnut soils, etc., familiar to many people.’
- ‘Great Sand Hills' soils lack the distinctive dark appearance that indicates rich organic matter and nutrients, like the chernozems and rich clay or gumbo soils that made Saskatchewan wheat famous.’
Mid 19th century: from Russian, from chërnyĭ ‘black’ + zemlya ‘earth’.
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