One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
In plural An ancient sect of Jews who claimed to be pure-blooded descendants of Abraham, being descended from Jews who refrained from taking non-Jewish wives during the Babylonian Captivity in the 6th cent. b.c.
Early 17th century; earliest use found in Samuel Purchas (bap. 1577, d. 1626), geographical editor and compiler and Church of England clergyman. From (i) post-classical Latin Genistae, plural (636 in Isidore).
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