One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Covered with or having paleae; chaffy..
Mid 17th century; earliest use found in Nathaniel Ward (1578–1652), clergyman and compiler of a law code for Massachusetts. Either from classical Latin palea chaff + -aceous, or from post-classical Latin paleaceus (although this is first attested later: 1686 or earlier) + -ous.
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