One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Chiefly Botany. A segment or lobe, typically narrow and irregularly shaped, forming part of the margin of a leaf, petal, lichen thallus, etc.
2Entomology. In an insect's mouthparts: a component sclerite of each maxilla, which (in many insects) takes the form of a hardened blade that serves to manipulate and cut up food in the mouth.
Mid 17th century; earliest use found in John Wilkins (1614–1672), theologian and natural philosopher. From classical Latin lacinia edge of a garment, fringe, hem, strip of cloth, appendage, protuberance, border, in post-classical Latin and scientific Latin also part between the clefts of a leaf, petal, etc., apex of the maxilla, probably a derivative (with uncertain suffixation) of lacer mangled, torn.
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