One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Originally: the spiny shrub Paliurus spina-christi, also called Christ's thorn. Later also: any of the Eurasian shrubs and small trees which constitute the genus Paliurus (family Rhamnaceae); (in form Paliurus) the genus itself.
Late Middle English; earliest use found in John Trevisa (c1342–?1402), translator. From classical Latin paliūrus a spiny shrub from ancient Greek παλίουρος, of unknown origin.
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