I briefly alluded to this in yesterday's post, but it's time to expand on the etymology of licorice (called liquorice in the United Kingdom because of minute differences evolving over time in the languages). Today, we'll think of it as multicolored chewy strands of sweetness, but (most) of what we eat comes from the roots of the leguminous glycyrrhiza glabra plant. In French, this plant was called licoresse, and in Latin, it was called liquiritia. All of this comes from the Ancient Greek word glukurrhiza (yep, the root of the scientific name if you were paying attention), with the same meaning. Glukurrhiza comes from two parts: glukus, meaning "sweet", and rhiza, meaning "root". "Sweet root". An appropriate name. Glukus is akin to Proto-Indo-European dlku, meaning "sweet" as well, and rhiza comes from another Proto-Indo-European reconstruction, wrehds, which also meant "root". Although the lack of semantic change is unsurprisingly disappointing, the hidden meaning is pretty darn interesting.
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.