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Jean Nicot (1530 – 4 May 1600) was a French diplomat and scholar.
When Nicot returned, he brought tobacco plants. He introduced snuff tobacco to the French royal court. The queen mother, Catherine de' Medici, became an instant tobacco convert. The plant was also an instant success with the Father Superior of Malta, who shared tobacco with all of his monks. More and more of the fashionable people of Paris began to use the plant, making Nicot a celebrity.
At first, the plant was called Nicotina. But nicotine later came to refer specifically to the particular chemical in the plant.
The tobacco plant, Nicotiana, also a flowering garden plant, is named after him, as is nicotine. Nicot described its believed medicinal properties (1559) and sent it as a medicine to the French court.
Jean Nicot also compiled one of the first French dictionaries Thresor de la langue françoyse tant ancienne que moderne (published in 1606).
From Nicot to nicotine
Linnaeus reputedly named the genus Nicotonia, consisting of two species of tobacco, after Jean Nicot. When organic chemists isolate the active ingredients from mind-altering herbs, they tend to use the suffix -ine to indicate their organic nature. The chemist who isolated nicotine from tobacco appears to have named it after Jean Nicot.
- Taylor, R. B.: White Coat Tales - Medicine's Heroes, Heritage and Misadventures, Springer, 2007, page 96
- http://www.tc.columbia.edu/centers/cifas/drugsandsociety/background/chronologydruguse.html Heading: 1550-1575 Tobacco, Europe.