Friday, February 8, 2013

Turkish Word in English: Tulip

The English word "tulip" comes from Turkish tülbent, which is in turn from Persian dulband, meaning "turban." The flower was brought from Turkey to Europe in the 16th century. It Italian you can still see the -an ending, tulipano. But we lost that in English, making this delightful etymology less easy to discern.

I found this bit of version in Flora's Dictionary: A Treatise on the Language of Flowers. It is from Thomas Moore's poem The Veiled Prophet of Khorassan.

What triumph crowds the rich Divan to-day, 
With turban'd heads, of every hue and race, 
Bowing before that veil'd and awful face, 
Like tulip-beds, of different shape and dyes, 
Bending beneath th' invisible west-wind's sighs. 

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