As words commonly did in the decentralized and unstandardized language of Middle English, garlic had a lot of variations in the olden days. It took forms including garlic, garlick, garleek, garlicke, garlek, and garlec, all of which derived from the Old English word garlic, which literally meant "spear-leek", comprising the terms gar ("spear") and lead ("leak") and supposedly earning that name because of the shapes of the individual cloves. Gar is from the Proto-Germanic word gaizaz, still meaning "spear" but with side definitions of "pike" or "javelin", and is ultimately from the Proto-Indo-European root gey, meaning "to throw", since you throw those things. Meanwhile, leac came to us through the Proto-Germanic word laukaz, still with the same meaning. Officially, the origin past here is unknown due to a lack of non-Germanic cognates, but some etymologists theorize that it could be related to the Proto-Indo-European root lewg, meaning "to bend". That's just guesswork, however. Oh, and the adjective form of garlic, garlicky, includes the k to preserve the hard c sound.
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.