One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A small bushy aromatic plant of the mint family, the bitter minty leaves of which are used in cooking and herbal medicine.
Hyssopus officinalis, family Labiatae
- ‘They come for the butterfly weed, lilacs, echinacea and anise hyssop, and especially for the white, lavender and pink butterfly bushes.’
- ‘Sweet Annie, anise hyssop, and feverfew make good fillers.’
- ‘Herbs you can use in the bath are bay leaf, chamomile, hyssop, lemon balm and lime flowers.’
- ‘Although the garden hosts a variety of nectar flowers, the butterflies concentrate when anise hyssop and Joe-pye weed bloom.’
- ‘The products used contain basil, pepper, clary sage and thyme, as well as hyssop essential oils.’
2(in biblical use) a wild shrub of uncertain identity whose twigs were used for sprinkling in ancient Jewish rites of purification.
- ‘Cleanse my hidden mind with the hyssop of your grace, for I draw near to the Holy of Holies of your mysteries.’
- ‘The hyssop is a lowly shrub; and God must stoop low to smell the incense of Calvary.’
- ‘He discoursed about trees, from the cedars of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows from the wall.’
- ‘Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth.’
- ‘The cedar tree is the highest of all the trees, and the hyssop is the lowest.’
Old English hysope (reinforced in Middle English by Old French ysope), via Latin from Greek hyssōpos, of Semitic origin.
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