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Defle arabice est oleander planta venenosa que grece nereo et nereodendron et rododafni dicitur de quibus infra.


rododafni (-nĩ p; -nj j) AC jp | rododafinij f | rodofin e | rododafũ B


Defle is Arabic for Latin oleander, a poisonous plant, which in Greek is called nereo and nereodendron and rododafni. For more about these see under nereo and rhodafni.


Cf. Wehr (1976): ﺩﻓﻠﻰ /diflā/ "oleander, Nerium oleander L.; bot.)".

  • A vocalisation closer to Simon’s is found in the Vocabulista glossary ed. Schiaparelli (1871: 100): ﺩﻓﻠﺔ /dafla/ herba que dicitur baladre [[1]]; p. 265: [*BALADRE], herba ﺩﻓﻠﺔ /dafla/ and ﺩﻓﻠﻲ /daflā/. [[2]].

N.b. baladre (< Latin veratrum) is Catalan for 'oleander'.

  • Also: de Alcalá (1883: 93) writes: adelfa {i.e. “oleander”}... défle [[3]].
  • The vocalization ﺩﻓﻠﺔ /dafla/ is also recorded in Karbstein (2002: 103), "2) Oleander Nerium oleander L.", where it says: ﺩﻓﻠﺔ ... ﻋﺨﻤﻴﺔ ﺑﻠﺬﺭﻱ. /dafla … ʕağamiya ballaḏriy/ - “/dafla/ in Romance is /ballaḏriy/ {i.e. baladre, see above}. This shows that this form was still used in the early 17th c. by the Morisco community in Spain.

Arabic ﺩﻓﻠﻰ /diflā,/ﺩﻓﻠﺔ /dafla/ < Greek δάφνη /dáphnē/ "sweet bay, Laurus nobilis".

Cf. Spanish/ Portuguese adelfa “oleander” < Arabic ﺍﻟﺪﻓﻠﺔ /ad-dafla/.

nereo/ nereodendron/ rododafni:
The Greek terms Simon mentions are ultimately taken from Dioscorides Longobardus, 4, 78, ed. Stadler (1901: 44) De nerion, v.l. De nerion idest lorandro, where it says: Nerion aut norodendron aut rodafni dicunt. "They call it {i.e. oleander} nerion or norodendron or rodafni". All of the synonyms mentioned in Dioscorides Longobardus have a number of variant readings in the different codices: Nerion - v.l. Nereon; norodendron - vv.ll. veredendron, neredendron, nerodendron; rodafni - vv.ll. rodafnin, rodaphni, rododafni, rodafin.

The elements these Greek synonyms consist of are: νήριον /nḗrion/ "oleander" and δένδρον /déndron/ "tree". Because its leaves are reminiscent of those of the laurel and its flowers of those of the rose, some oleander names underline this perceived similarity by containing the elements ῥóδον /rhódon/ "rose"; and δάφνη /dáphnē/ "sweet bay, Laurus nobilis", the latter also with other meanings.

Simon's nereo is obviously derived from Greek νήριον /nḗrion/, the word was adopted into Latin as nerium, nerion; his nereodendron must be νηριόδενδρον /nēriódendron/ "oleander-tree", a synonym that seems to be only mentioned in Dioscorides Longobardus; Simon's rododafni is ροδοδάφνη /rhododáphnē/, which means literally "rose-laurel, rose-bay". Concerning the original Greek text, 4, 81, ed. Wellmann (1906-14: II.242) beginning with νήριον /nḗrion/ mentions the following synonyms: ῥοδóδενδρον /rhodódendron/ and ροδοδάφνη /rhododáphnē/.

In Wellmann's Pseudo-Dioscorides, i.e. RV version, 81, (1906-14: II.243) beginning with ροδοδάφνη /rhododáphnē/, he mentions a series of different synonyms, but of interest is his statement: Ῥωμαῖοι ῥοράνδρουμ, ὁι δὲ λαυρορόσα "the Romans call it rorandrum and others laurorosa. In rorandrum we may see an early witness and precursor of the form oleander. This particular word developed an unusual number of variants and is generally considered to be a late derivation of ultimately rhododendrum. While the plant’s leaves are reminiscent of laurel, as reflected in its Greek name: ῥοδοδάφνη /rhododáphnē/ "rose-laurel, rose-bay", also in Latin in the above-mentioned laurorosa, lit. "laurel-rose" < laurus "laurel", and also in a common medieval form lorandrum, lor = laurus, there was obviously yet a further influence at work on the word, which must have been olea "olive(-tree)" leading to oleander, oleandrum etc.

WilfGunther 25/04/2013

See also: Rhodafni, Nereo, Defela

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