hist-brewing: mugwort etymology

Jeff Renner nerenner at umich.edu
Thu Dec 23 05:59:28 PST 1999

 Kirsty Pollock <kirsty.pollock at mpuk.com> wrote about my post on the
etymology of mugwort, in which I looked at the "mug":
>great stuff, but I was assuming the connection was the 'wort' part (if
>there is indeed any).

Ah, no, the wort just means plant in this case, although its use as in beer
wort derives from the same root ultimately, via wuertz, spice.  From OED
(hopefully I'll better replace the umlauts and other non-ASCII characters
so they aren't rendered weird)"


"wort wt, sb.1 Forms: 1 wyrt, 2 wirte, 6 pl. wirtes; 2 wert, 4 pl. wertes;
1, 3, 5-7 wurt (5 pl. wurten), 3 wrt, 3-7 worte (5 wourte), 4- wort (5 pl.
worttus, 6 woort). [OE. wyrt root, plant = OS. wurt, OHG. (MHG. and G.)
wurz, ONor. (Icel., Norw., Sw., Da.) urt, Goth. waurts; the stem is related
to those of ONor. rot root sb., and of L. radix, Gr. riza. For the history
of the spelling and pronunciation, see the note to worm sb. ]

"1.  A plant, herb, or vegetable, used for food or medicine; often = pot-herb.

"Not in ordinary use after the middle of the 17th cent. and now arch. As a
second element, however, retained in various plant-names, as colewort,
liverwort. "

And, in regards to brewing:


"wort wt, sb.2 Forms: 1 wyrt, 5 wirt; 4- wort, 4-7 worte (5 wortte), 4
wourt, 5 wurt(e, 5-7 woort (6 woorte). [OE. wyrt = OS. wurtja spicery, MHG.
and G. wuerze, spice, brewer's wort), f. the stem wurt-; cf. wyrt wort sb.1

"1.  The infusion of malt or other grain which after fermentation becomes
beer (or may be used for the distillation of spirits), unfermented beer. Of
beer: (to be) in wort, still unfermented. (See also sweetwort.)"


Jeff Renner in Ann Arbor, Michigan USA, c/o nerenner at umich.edu
"One never knows, do one?"  Fats Waller, American Musician, 1904-1943. 

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