Used in the Middle Ages for corks (Orlando Furioso, x.
106); used also for a cup or bottle. (French, gourde; Latin,
Jonah's gourd [kikiven],
the Palma Christi, called in Egypt kiki. Niebuhr speaks of a
specimen which he himself saw near a rivulet, which in October “rose eight feet in five
months' time.” And Volney says, “Wherever plants have water the
rapidity of their growth is prodigious. In Cairo,” he adds, “there is a
species of gourd which in twenty-four hours will send out shoots four
inches long.” (Travels, vol. i. p. 71.)
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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