When you sidle up to your sweetie for a smooch beneath the mistletoe this year, try not to think too much about the provenance of the plant's name. It's hardly the most romantic thing.
The name mistletoe comes from the Old English mistletan (mistel, "mistletoe" or sometimes "basil" + tan, "twig"). Its history before that is unclear, but some etymologists trace the mistel to the German mist or "dung," in which case we're kissing underneath something like the "dung on a twig." This is plausible, given... READ ON