One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A javelin or dart wrapped in tow and pitch, set on fire, and projected as an incendiary weapon by hand or from a catapult.
Early 16th century; earliest use found in Gavin Douglas (c1476–1522), poet and bishop of Dunkeld. From classical Latin phalārica, variant of falārica heavy missile discharged by hand or machine, originally from a siege-tower from fala wooden siege-tower (perhaps of Etruscan origin) + -āris + -ca, feminine of -cus, suffix forming adjectives.
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