saxifrage

[sak-suh-frij]
noun
  1. any plant of the genus Saxifraga, certain species of which grow wild in the clefts of rocks, other species of which are cultivated for their flowers.

Origin of saxifrage

1400–50; late Middle English < Latin saxifraga (herba) stone-breaking (herb), equivalent to saxi-, combining form of saxum stone + -fraga, feminine of -fragus breaking; see fragile
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Historical Examples of saxifrage


British Dictionary definitions for saxifrage

saxifrage

noun
  1. any saxifragaceous plant of the genus Saxifraga, characterized by smallish white, yellow, purple, or pink flowers

Word Origin for saxifrage

C15: from Late Latin saxifraga, literally: rock-breaker (probably alluding to its ability to dissolve kidney stones), from Latin saxum rock + frangere to break
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 saxifrage
n.

type of plant typically found in cold regions, late 14c., from Old French saxifrage (13c.), from Late Latin saxifraga, name of a kind of herb, from Latin saxifraga herba, literally "a rock-breaking herb," from saxifragus "stonebreaking," from saxum "stone, rock" + frag-, root of frangere "to break" (see fraction). Pliny says the plant was so called because it was given to dissolve gallstones, but a more likely explanation is that it was so called because it grows in crevices in rocks. (Latin used different words for "stone" and "gallstone" -- saxum and calculus). Related: Saxifragaceous.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper