From the Spanish lavandera (a laundress), the plant used
by laundresses for scenting linen. The botanical name is Lavandula, from the Latin lavo, to wash. It is a token of affection.
He from his lass him lavender hath sent.
Showing his love, and doth requital crave.
Him rosemary his sweetheart, whose intent
Is that he should her in remembrance have.
Drayton. Eclogue, IX.
Laid up in lavender- i.e.
taken great care of, laid away, as women put things away in
lavender to keep off moths. Persons who are in hiding are said to be in
lavender. The French have the phrase “Elever dans du coton,” referring to the custom of wrapping up things precious in cotton wool.
“Je veux que tu sois chez moi, commc dans du coton.” —La
Muscotte, i. 2.
In pawn. In Latin, pignori opponere
“The poor gentleman paies so deare for the lavender it is laid up in,
that if it lies long at the broker's house he seems to buy his apparel
twice.” —Greenc: Imp. Har. Misc., v. 405.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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