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.
- ‘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.’
- ‘It contains soil types, such as podzols, chernozems, brown earths, chestnut soils, etc., familiar to many people.’
Mid 19th century: from Russian, from chërnyĭ ‘black’ + zemlya ‘earth’.
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