One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A white or reddish plant gum, used in the food, textile, and pharmaceutical industries.
This gum is obtained from plants of the genus Astragalus, family Leguminosae, in particular the Eurasian A. gummifer
- ‘Similar vegetable gums, with the same possible adverse effects, are carrageenan, gum tragacanth, and carob or locust bean gum.’
- ‘So I find the idea of ‘bleaching’ your skin - using a brew of tragacanth, lavender water, glycerine, boric acid, peroxide and distilled water - pretty scary.’
- ‘Some, such as gum arabic and gum tragacanth, are exuded from the gashed bark of trees.’
Late 16th century: from French tragacante, via Latin from Greek tragakantha ‘goat's thorn’, from tragos ‘goat’ (because it is browsed by goats) + akantha ‘thorn’ (referring to the shrub's spines).
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