Due to its characteristic red-and-green colors and an association with the three wise magi, the poinsettia is a staple when it comes to Christmas decorations. But did you know that the poinsettia wasn't introduced into America or English until 1828? It was brought over by the U.S. Ambassador to Mexico, and botanists took to it right away, creating a genus name by it in 1836, a name used to today. Now, that aforementioned ambassador was named Joel R. Poinsett, so you can probably see where the word comes from. Poinsett as a surname comes from either the Netherlands or northern France. The best sources I could find on this were pretty vague, but this might be from French poinct, which if true, would be connected to English point and, through Latin punctum, go back to the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European root pewg, which meant something like prick".
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.