Via Middle English from Latin gentia, which, according to Pliny, was named after Gentius, the last king of Illyria, who supposedly discovered the plant's medicinal benefits. This has been dismissed as folk etymology but the word may still ultimately be of Illyrian origin, as -an is a common suffix in Illyrian words.
gentian (plural gentians)
- Any of various herbs of the family Gentianaceae found in temperate and mountainous regions with violet or blue flowers.
- The dried roots and rhizome of a European gentian, Gentiana lutea, used as a tonic.
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- ^ Fowler, H.W., A Dictionary of Modern English Usage, Oxford Univ. Press, 1926.