Friday, February 8, 2013

Persian Word in English: Jasmine

We get the English word "jasmine" from French jasmin (compare Latin: jasminum). Jasmine was first cultivated in English in the 16th century.

The French word in turn comes from Arabic yasamin, which is borrowed from Persian yasmin. The word is also found in Middle Persian: yasaman.

The Greeks also borrowed this Persian word: iasme, which the medical writer Dioscorides used in reference to a Persian perfume, perhaps oil of jasmine.

From Abraham Cowley's Essays in Verse and Prose (1669), there are these lovely lines:

Who, that has Reason, and his Smell,
Would not among Roses and Jasmin dwell?
Rather then all his Spirits choak
With Exhalations of Durt and Smoak?

The image is from Wikipedia:

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