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[dahr-nl] /ˈdɑr nl/
any of several grasses of the genus Lolium, having simple stems, flat leaves, and terminal spikes.
Origin of darnel
1275-1325; Middle English; compare French (Walloon) darnelle, probably < Germanic Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for darnel
Historical Examples
  • According to Gerarde, darnel hurteth the eyes, and maketh them dim, if it happen either in corne for breade or drinke.

    Folk-lore of Shakespeare Thomas Firminger Thiselton-Dyer
  • The Tares sown amongst the wheat were probably the seed of the darnel.

    The Romance of Plant Life G. F. Scott Elliot
  • The darnel is permitted to grow in summer, and in harvest is cast into the fire,—both for the sake of the wheat.

    The Parables of Our Lord William Arnot
  • darnel, and all the idle weeds that grow In our sustaining corn.

  • It was thought Mr. darnel came on purpose to show his resentment.

  • A wet season is said to encourage the growth of darnel with the varieties of corn.

    Memoranda on Poisons Thomas Hawkes Tanner
  • I shall set about darnel immediately—a confounded exchange, for the Percy was certainly the finest girl in London.

    Discipline Mary Brunton
  • He set out on foot with his retinue, and entered one end of the town just as Mr. darnel's mob had come in at the other.

  • "I hope you will live to change your opinion," pursued Mrs. darnel.

    Pencil Sketches Eliza Leslie
  • They differed about a bet upon Miss Cleverlegs, and, in the course of the dispute, Mr. darnel called him a petulant boy.

British Dictionary definitions for darnel


any of several grasses of the genus Lolium, esp L. temulentum, that grow as weeds in grain fields in Europe and Asia
Word Origin
C14: probably related to French (Walloon dialect) darnelle, of obscure origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for darnel

weed growing in grainfields, c.1300, from northern dialectal French darnelle; according to one theory, the the second element is Old French neelle (Modern French nielle) "cockle," from Vulgar Latin nigella "black-seeded," from fem. of Latin nigellus "blackish."

But perhaps rather the word is related to Middle Dutch verdaernt, verdarnt "stunned, dumbfounded, angry," Walloon darne, derne "stunned, dazed, drunk," the plant so called from its well-known inebriating property. Long noted for its "poisonous" properties (actually caused by fungus growing on the plant); The French word for it is ivraie, from Latin ebriacus "intoxicated," and the botanical name, Lolium temulentum, is from Latin temulent "drunken," though this sometimes is said to be "from the heavy seed heads lolling over under their own weight."

In some parts of continental Europe it appears the seeds of darnel have the reputation of causing intoxication in men, beasts, and birds, the effects being sometimes so violent as to produce convulsions. In Scotland the name of Sleepies, is applied to darnel, from the seeds causing narcotic effects. [Gouverneur Emerson, "The American Farmer's Encyclopedia," New York, 1860. It also mentions that "Haller speaks of them as communicating these properties to beer."]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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