Where Does Horseradish Get Its Name?

Although the exact origin of the name horseradish is not entirely known, it is believed that the name may have originated in Central Europe, where the English may have mispronounced the German name for horseradish, "meerrettich." This apparent mispronunciation may have led to the English referring to horseradish as "mareradish," which eventually became "horseradish."

Horseradish has no direct relationship to horses or radishes. However, the name horse within the name horseradish may refer to large size and coarseness, while radish stems from the Latin term radix, which means root. The 3,000 year old plant is part of the mustard family and may have been used by the Egyptians in 1500 B.C. The horseradish was a common accompaniment to beef and oyster dishes in England by the late 1600s, and was eventually brought to North America and cultivated in the mid-1850s.