placenta (n.) Look up placenta at Dictionary.com
1670s of plants, 1690s of mammals, from Modern Latin placenta uterina "uterine cake" (so called 16c. by Italian anatomist Realdo Colombo), from Latin placenta "a cake, flat cake," from Greek plakoenta, accusative of plakoeis "flat," related to plax (genitive plakos) "level surface, anything flat," from PIE *plak- (1) "to be flat" (cognates: Greek plakoeis "flat," Lettish plakt "to become flat," Old Norse flaga "layer of earth," Norwegian flag "open sea," Old English floh "piece of stone, fragment," Old High German fluoh "cliff"), extended form of root *pele- (2) "flat, to spread" (see plane (n.1)). So called from the shape.