Where does the word “Alyssum” originate and What does Alyssum mean?

The Greeks had the notion that if one were bitten by a rabid dog, hydrophobia or madness could be averted by promptly chewing the leaves of this plant.

Accordingly they gave it the name alyssos, from the negative prefix a and lyssa, “madness,” hence, “preventive of madness.”

The meaning was preserved in the Roman alteration, alyssum.

None of our modern physicians, however, recommends it as a cure for hydrophobia.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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