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A sprig of this shrub (in Latin planta genista) was said to have been worn as a crest by Geoffrey of Anjou, and to be the origin of the name Plantagenet. The word is recorded from Old English (in the form brōm) and is of Germanic origin, ultimately related to bramble.

From late Middle English, broom has also meant a long-handled brush of bristles or twigs, used for sweeping; this is the emblem of St Martha, St Petronilla, an early Roman martyr whose fictional legend makes her the daughter of St Peter (see Peter 1), and St Zita, a 13th-century Luccan serving-maid.

See also new brooms sweep clean, sweep of Chancery.

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