One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A blue-flowered herbaceous plant that is cultivated for its seed (linseed) and for textile fiber made from its stalks.
Linum usitatissimum, family Linaceae
- ‘The principal crops are grain, sunflower seeds, sugar beet, and flax.’
- ‘Oats, millet, opium poppies, and flax were also being cultivated by the end of the Neolithic period.’
- ‘Irish farmers came to rely on imported flax seed because the very best linen required the harvesting of flax before the seed could mature.’
- ‘Nevertheless, linseed itself is sometimes used as a food grain in India, where the species originated and where flax has been cultivated since earliest times.’
- ‘Many have abundant gardens, with brilliant red poppies, orange marigolds, blue flax, pink clematis and jacaranda, and large cypress and eucalyptus trees.’
- 1.1 Textile fiber obtained from the flax plant.‘a mill for the preparation and spinning of flax’
- ‘These fibres would then be spun in the same way as flax or wool.’
- ‘Laces were typically made from flax, silk, metal wrapped silk and some cotton and wool.’
- ‘Prior to that, cushions were stuffed with flax, cotton or other padded materials and the result was fairly deadening.’
- ‘Linen is from flax, a bast fiber taken from the stalk of the plant.’
- ‘Handmade utensils have been produced since the beginning of the nineteenth century; the primary textiles are wool and flax.’
- 1.2 Used in names of other plants of the flax family (e.g. purging flax) or plants that yield similar fiber (e.g. false flax).
- ‘Travelling with them were weeds of nuisance significance, selection favouring their life-cycles to fit those of the crops or to mimic them: false oat in cereals, and in flax, the false flax.’
Old English flæx, of West Germanic origin; related to Dutch vlas and German Flachs, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin plectere and Greek plekein ‘to plait, twist’.
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