centaury

[sen-taw-ree]
noun, plural cen·tau·ries.
  1. any of various plants belonging to the genus Centaurium, of the gentian family, having clusters of small pink or red flowers.
  2. any of several other plants of the genera Centaurea and Sabatia.

Origin of centaury

before 1000; Middle English, Old English centaurie < Medieval Latin centauria, apparently < Greek kentaúria, neuter plural (taken in ML as feminine singular) of kentaúrion, noun use of neuter of kentaúrios (adj.), equivalent to kéntaur(os) centaur + -ios adj. suffix; said to be in reference to the centaur Chiron, known for his knowledge of medicinal plants
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Historical Examples of centaury


British Dictionary definitions for centaury

centaury

noun plural -ries
  1. any Eurasian plant of the genus Centaurium, esp C. erythraea, having purplish-pink flowers and formerly believed to have medicinal properties: family Gentianaceae
  2. any plant of the genus Centaurea, which includes the cornflower and knapweed: family Compositae (composites)

Word Origin for centaury

C14: ultimately from Greek Kentauros the Centaur; from the legend that Chiron the Centaur divulged its healing properties
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

Word Origin and History for centaury
n.

small plant with red flowers (now usually erythraea Centaureum), late 14c., from Medieval Latin centaurea, from Latin centaureum, from Greek kentaureion, from kentauros "centaur" (see centaur), so called according to Pliny because the plant's medicinal properties were discovered by Chiron the centaur.

German Tausendgüldenkraut is based on a mistranslation of the Latin word, as if from centum + aurum (the similarity might be the result of Roman folk etymology).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper