One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A hard wooden laminate that is resistant to heat and is usually used to make handles for cutlery and cooking utensils.
1940s; earliest use found in The Indiana Evening Gazette. From a first element of unknown origin + wood. Perhaps compare pack (the material consists of laminated veneers bonded under high pressure and temperature), or perhaps compare pakka, variant of pukka or pukka.
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