One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A Mediterranean plant of the nightshade family, with white or purple flowers and large yellow berries. It has a forked fleshy root that supposedly resembles the human form and was formerly widely used in medicine and magic, allegedly shrieking when pulled from the ground.
- ‘His experiences of living in Rome produced Limitatio, a painting that includes variations on the already fantastic shapes of mandrake roots, based on an illustration in a medieval manuscript at the Vatican Library.’
- ‘Colin, staring at a jar of mandrake roots, turns to her, smiling.’
- ‘It was thought that mandrakes sprang up beneath gallows, with the root taking on the shape of the person who'd been hanged.’
- ‘Last summer at The Yard, an arts colony devoted entirely to dance, he spent a month making Mandragora Vulgaris, a work based on the medieval legend of the mandrake root.’
- ‘Assistants held the patient securely and some sedation such as mandrake root or solution of opium was given, a concoction which probably stiffened the surgeon's resolve rather than mollified the patient.’
- ‘She's an old woman pulling out a maple sapling by its roots and trying to recall a song she once knew about mandrakes.’
- ‘This is true of many old medicinal plants like the mandrake, an herb which grows around the Mediterranean.’
- ‘They are easily frightened, and can only be lured out of their nesting grounds with offerings of mandrake root.’
- ‘Millie picked up a piece of mandrake root and broke it.’
- ‘Plants, such as the mandrake, orchid, and sweet potato, have, as the history of folk medicine reveals, been credited with rejuvenating properties.’
- ‘This discussion of mandrakes introduces the larger issues of the nature of magic and the magic of nature.’
2another term for mayapple
Middle English mandrag(g)e, from Middle Dutch mandrag(r)e, from medieval Latin mandragora; associated with man (because of the root) + drake in the Old English sense ‘dragon’.
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