One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A European plant of the nettle family with greenish flowers, which grows on or at the foot of walls or in stony places.
Parietaria judaica, family Urticaceae
- ‘Results of earlier prick tests and radioallergosorbent tests were positive for wall pellitory and grasses, and the tests resulted in a mild increase in peripheral blood eosinophil counts (0.6-0.7 x 10 / l (6-7%)).’
2A plant of the daisy family, Anacyclus pyrethrum, with a pungent root once used as a remedy for toothache.
- ‘In the thirteenth century we read in old records that Pellitory of Spain was 'a proved remedy for the toothache' with the Welsh physicians.’
- ‘The root of pellitory possesses very pungent stimulating properties, which, when chewed, give a sharp and tingling sense of heat in the mouth, and excite a copious flow of saliva.’
Late Middle English: pellitory (sense 1) apparently an alteration of obsolete parietary, from Old French paritaire, based on Latin paries, pariet- ‘wall’; pellitory (sense 2) probably a variant of obsolete pelleter, via Old French from Latin pyrethrum pyrethrum.
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