Dandelions and Medallions

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Reader Richard Walker wonders if the -lion endings in words like dandelion and medallion have anything to do with lions.

Yes, where dandelion is concerned; no, for medallion.

The English word dandelion comes from French dent-de-lion, “lion’s tooth.” This name derives from the toothed leaves of the plant. Modern French speakers call the dandelion pissenlit, “pee in the bed.” Middle English speakers called it the piss-a-bed. Herbalists know that the dandelion has diuretic qualities.

Medallion, on the other hand, comes from Italian medaglione, “large medal.” The word medal comes ultimately from Latin metallum, “metal.”

A taxi medallion is a license that allow taxi drivers to operate in the US.

Here are some quotations from the newspapers:

… the soil a bit,” said Ryan Anderson, program and communications manager for Midwest Pesticide Action Center. “Dandelions are good at reducing soil erosion.(www.chicagotribune.com)

… Uppkar Thind said he has to drive his yellow cab as many 13 hours a day, as he struggles to pay off a taxi medallion that he bought 11 years ago. … (www.nytimes.com)

… a forerunner of the City Council, to pass the Haas ordinance. That law limited the number of hack licenses — medallions — that made it legal for taxis to transport passengers who hailed them on the street. … (www.nytimes.com)

… value of Chicago’s taxi medallions have plummeted dramatically over the last several years. Now, foreclosures in the city boasts the second … (www.usatoday.com)

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