One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
nounAncient Greek History
The custom of temporary banishment (for five years) practised in ancient Syracuse, effected by writing the name of the person banished on an olive leaf (rather than on a potsherd, as in the ostracism of Athens).
Early 17th century; earliest use found in Thomas North (1535–?1603), translator. From French pétalisme or its etymon Hellenistic Greek πεταλισμός from ancient Greek πέταλον leaf + -ισμός.
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