One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
An aromatic plant of the daisy family, formerly used in medicine and for flavoring ale prior to the use of hops.
Balsamita major, family Compositae
- ‘The costmary plant is a tall and erect perennial chrysanthemum, of minor importance as a condiment.’
- ‘Using a mortar and pestle, grind the spikenard, peppercorns, costmary and cloves together.’
- ‘Today, the primary use of costmary is in tea and herbal pillows and sachets.’
- ‘In potpourris, costmary helps intensify the scents of other herbs.’
- ‘Perfumed toilet water was once made from costmary leaves and they added a spicy flavor to ale.’
Late Middle English: from obsolete cost (via Latin from Greek kostos, via Arabic from Sanskrit kuṣṭha, denoting an aromatic plant) + Mary, the mother of Christ (with whom it was associated in medieval times because of its medicinal qualities).
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