1) Ginger is the rhizome of the tropical plant <i>Zingiber officinale</i>, prized for its hot spicy taste.
It was already being imported into England in the Old English period and was much used both in medicine and cookery. Spellings in the Middle Ages are apparently influenced by forms of the word across Europe and the Arab world, especially Old French gingimbre. In Nesfield, c.1300, unum radicem Zingiberis was due to the lord of the manor in lieu of suit and secular service, a quite different spelling from one in the accounts of Bolton Priory: 1307-8 Pro zuker, gyngebr’, croco et aliis speciebus lvs vijd ob.. This will have been preserved ginger which was dried and ground: 1394-5 It. dim. lib. pulveris zinzebris js viijd, Whitby. Cakes flavoured with ginger were in vogue from at least the fifteenth century, and popular etymology was responsible for the spelling ‘gingerbread’ which came into use from that time: 1562 One ginger breade tempes vjd, Richmond. These cakes became especially popular in Yorkshire in the 1700s and recipes for several varieties have survived. The spelling remained inconsistent and late examples are ginge-bred, found in the seventeenth-century diary of Dr Kaye of Woodsome, and Ginsbread, sold at Halifax Fair in 1720.