One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Horticulture. The mature roots of trees and plants used to create ornamental features in a garden. Compare rockwork, 2b. Now historical.
2Dentistry. Treatment of the root of a tooth, especially of the root canal.
3US regional (chiefly southern). Chiefly in African-American use: a spell cast using a preparation of plant roots; (more usually) the practice of casting spells using roots.
Mid 19th century; earliest use found in Gardener's Magazine. From root + work.
root work/ˈruːt wəːk/
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