Saskatchewan Flax Development Commission

March 18, 2013 Flax in our Language and Literature

Source: Linda Braun   |  Category: General News

Flax in our Language and Literature

A day spent in the reference section of a local library can provide a lot of insight into the significant role that flax has had in the development of the English language. Recognizing the number of uses of flax helps one to explore the history of the words that have survived and become part of our every day speech.

There are two mains schools of thought regarding the source of the word flax. Most word origin dictionaries trace it back through Old English, Old Teutonic, Old Ayran, and finally to the Old Latin where the source is plectere, which means, "to plait." Another somewhat similar path also ends up in Old Ayran with the root being plak, "to flay" – a direct reference to beating the fibers to facilitate separation.