One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A plant of the northeastern US with loose clusters of purplish-blue flowers and slender pointed leaves, rows of which are said to resemble a ladder.
- ‘Jacob's ladders (Polemonium species) are perennial herbs in the Phlox Family (Polemoniaceae). Showy Jacob's ladder grows from a branched tap root that produces a many-leaved cluster from its crown.’
- ‘No plant receives more oohs and aahs from visitors to our test garden than variegated Jacob's ladder (Polemonium caeruleum ‘Brise de Anjou’).’
- ‘The leaves of Jacob's ladder may be plain green or variegated. The variegated cultivar that first caught my eye was Polemonium reptans 'Stairway to Heaven,' which has pink and cream colored edges on each leaflet.’
2A rope ladder with wooden rungs, especially for access to a ship up the side.
- ‘They had been using the Jacob's ladder for recoveries, but my squadron had found that to be difficult (it also increased hover time over the deck).’
- ‘One by one, migrants climbed the Jacob's ladder where they are met by a team of Coast Guardsmen who began the embarkation process.’
- ‘With a single hand on the shoulder of the person in front of them, they were led to the forward section of the ship where they climbed down the Jacob's ladder and back into the custody of their own country.’
Mid 18th century: with biblical allusion to Jacob's dream of a ladder reaching to heaven (Gen. 28:12).
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