One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A yellow-flowered European plant of the cabbage family. It was formerly grown as a source of blue dye, which was extracted from the leaves after they had been dried, powdered, and fermented.
Isatis tinctoria, family Brassicaceae
- ‘The distinctive blue dye used by the Picts to tattoo themselves came from the woad plant, which grows wild in the North of Britain.’
- ‘Blues used in tartan cloth originally came from the native plant woad, which was also used as a form of ceremonial face and body paint by ancient Scots.’
- ‘Tirien knew that the woad plant could give a blue dye, but she didn't know it could be utilized for other purposes.’
- ‘Woad robs the soil of nutrients, forcing medieval woad growers in Europe to move frequently in search of uncultivated land.’
- ‘Industrial crops such as flax and dye-plants (madder, woad, and weld), and other cash crops such as coleseed, hops, and tobacco, increased revenue per hectare, enabling more people to live from the earnings of smaller plots.’
- 1.1 Dye obtained from the woad plant, now superseded by synthetic products.
- ‘Caesar claimed far more widespread use of the blue dye woad, but this was used over the whole body and not for painting or tattooing patterns.’
- ‘‘All Britons dye themselves with woad which makes them blue,’ Caesar recorded, ‘so that in battle their appearance is more terrible.’’
- ‘The early Celts are fun to draw, with blue woad tattoos, punk-like spiky hair and walrus-like moustaches.’
Old English wād, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch wede and German Waid.
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