"fragrant plant of the mint family," c. 1300, from Anglo-French lavendre, Old French lavendre "the lavender plant," from Medieval Latin lavendula "lavender" (10c.), perhaps from Latin lividus "bluish, livid" (see livid). If so, it probably was associated with French lavande, Italian lavanda "a washing" (from Latin lavare "to wash;" from PIE root *leue- "to wash") because it was used to scent washed fabrics and as a bath perfume.
The adjective meaning "of a pale purple color, of the color of lavender flowers" is from 1840; as a noun in the color sense from 1882. An identical Middle English word meant "laundress, washerwoman;" also, apparently, "prostitute, whore; camp follower" and is attested as a surname from early 13c.
kind of swallow-like bird (Chelidon urbica), 1580s (earlier in diminutive form maretinet, mid-15c.), from Old French martin, which is apparently from the masc. proper name Martin in some sense. Writers in 17c. said it was named for St. Martin of Tours (d. 397 C.E.), patron saint of France, whose festival day (Martinmas) is Nov. 11, about the time the birds are said to depart for winter. But OED says the naming "may have been purely arbitrary," and Century Dictionary says "the name has no specific meaning ...." Usually with a qualifying term: the common house-martin is so called because it nests under the eaves of houses. The American purple martin is so called by 1804.
Used in ancient Greece of a blue gem, perhaps sapphire, and of a purple or deep red flower, but exactly which one is unknown (gladiolus, iris, and larkspur have been suggested). It is fabled to have sprung from the blood of Hyakinthos, Laconian youth beloved by Apollo and accidentally slain by him. The flower is said to have the letters "AI" or "AIAI" (Greek cry of grief) on its petals. The modern use in reference to a particular flowering plant genus is from 1570s. Related: Hyacinthine.
"the color red; red pigment; ruddiness; red wine," mid-13c., from red (adj.1). Compare Old High German roti, German röthe "redness, red," from the adjective in German. As "a person with red hair" from early 14c. In finance, in the red for "overdrawn, losing money" is by 1926, from the color formerly conventional for recording debts and balances in accounts.
Red is one of the most general color-names, and embraces colors ranging in hue from rose aniline to scarlet iodide of mercury and red lead. A red yellower than vermillion is called scarlet; one much more purple is called crimson. A very dark red, if pure or crimson, is called maroon; if brownish, chestnut or chocolate. A pale red — that is, one of low chroma and high luminosity — is called a pink, ranging from rose-pink, or pale crimson, to salmon-pink, or pale scarlet. [Century Dictionary]
It was the typical name in the North and the Northern armies for a Confederate soldier during the American Civil War, and the Southern soldiers were, collectively Johnnies, generically Johnny Reb. In the Mediterranean, it was a typical name for an Englishman by c. 1800. In the Crimean War it became the typical name among the English for "a Turk" (also Johnny Turk), later it was extended to Arabs; by World War II the Arabs were using Johnny as the typical name for "a British man"). Johnny Crapaud as a derogatory generic name for a Frenchman or France is from 1818.
Johnny-come-lately "a new arrival" first attested 1839. Johnny-on-the-spot is from 1896. Johnny-jump-up as an American English name for the pansy is from 1837. Johnny-cocks, a colloquial name for the early purple orchid (Orchis mascula) is attested from 1883.
"open large-mouthed vessel," mid-14c., from Old Norse bikarr or Middle Dutch beker "goblet," probably (with Old Saxon bikeri, Old High German behhari, German Becher) from Medieval Latin bicarium, which is probably a diminutive of Greek bikos "earthenware jug, wine jar, vase with handles," also a measure, of uncertain origin. Sometimes said to be a Semitic word, perhaps a borrowing from Syrian buqa "a two-handed vase or jug," or from Egyptian b:k.t "oil flask." Form assimilated in English to beak. Originally a drinking vessel; the word is used from 1877 in reference to a similar glass vessel used in scientific laboratories.
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stained mouth;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim:
[Keats, from "Ode to a Nightingale"]
"brownish-purple," literally "flea-color," 1787, from French puce "flea-color; flea," from Latin pucilem (nominative pulex) "flea," from PIE *plou- "flea" (source also of Sanskrit plusih, Greek psylla, Old Church Slavonic blucha, Lithuanian blusa, Armenian lu "flea").
[T]he couleur de Puce, or flea colour, and the couleur de Noix, or nut colour, are the reigning winter taste. [Westminster Magazine, January 1777]
Perhaps so called as the color of the scab or stain that marked a flea-bite; flea-bitten was a color word in English to describe whiter or gray spotted over with dark-reddish spots (by 1620s, often of the skins of horses, dogs, etc.). That it could be generally recognized as a color seems a testimony to our ancestors' intimacy with vermin.
OED sees no connection between this word and obsolete puke (16c.-18c.; hence Shakespeare's puke-stocking) as the name of a dark color of now-uncertain shade (Century Dictionary says perhaps reddish-brown, OED says bluish-black or inky; others suggest grey).
common name of plants of the genus Daucus, cultivated from ancient times for their large, tapering, edible root, c. 1500, karette, from French carrotte, from Latin carota, from Greek karoton "carrot," probably from PIE *kre-, from root *ker- (1) "horn; head," and so called for its horn-like shape. A Middle English name for the wild carrot was dauke (late 14c.), from Latin.
The plant originally was white-rooted and was a medicinal plant to the ancients, who used it as an aphrodisiac and to prevent poisoning. Not entirely distinguished from parsnips in ancient times. A purple-rooted variety existed perhaps as early as 7c. in Afghanistan and was introduced in Europe by Arabs c. 1100. It was cultivated into the modern orange root 16c.-17c. in the Netherlands. Thus the word's use as a color name is not recorded before 1670s in English, originally of yellowish-red hair.
The theory that carrots are good for the eyesight may have begun in ancient times, but it was "much embroidered in the Second World War, when, in order to encourage the consumption of carrots, one of the few foodstuffs not in short supply, the British authorities put it about that pilots of night-fighter aircraft consumed vast quantities to enable them to see in the dark." [Ayto, "Diner's Dictionary"]
The same word for the same stuff entered Portuguese and Spanish (brasil) and Italian (brasile). The South American country was named Santa Cruz by its "discoverer," Pedro Alvarez Cabral (1500), but within a decade on maps it began to be called terra de brasil "red-dyewood land" because it produced a valuable red dyewood similar to East Indian type, and that name predominated from 1550s.
Complicating matters is Hy Brasil, a name attested since early 14c. for a legendary island or rock in the North Atlantic off the west coast of Ireland. It is so-called perhaps from the "red dyewood" word by association with Pliny's Insulae Purpurariae ("Purple Islands") in the Atlantic off the coast of Morocco.
c. 1600, "shield louse (Coccus ilicis) that yields a red dye" (1590s of the tree on which the insects live), from Medieval Latin cremesinus (also source of French kermès, Italian chermes, Spanish carmes), from Arabic qirmiz "kermes," from Sanskrit krmi-ja a compound meaning "(red dye) produced by a worm."
The Sanskrit compound is krmih "worm" (from PIE root *kwrmi- "worm," source also of Lithuanian kirmis, Old Irish cruim, Albanian krimp "worm") + -ja- "produced" (from PIE root *gene- "give birth, beget"). The insect lives in the Levant and southern Europe on a species of small evergreen oak (kermes oak) and in ancient Europe were the main source of red and scarlet dye. The dye is prepared from the dried bodies of pregnant females, which alive resemble small roundish grains about the size of peas and cling immobile to the tree on which they live. From this fact kermes dye was, for a long time, mistaken as being from a seed or excrescence of the tree, and the word for it in Greek was kokkos, literally "a grain, seed" (see cocco-). This was passed to Latin as coccum, coccus "berry [sic] yielding scarlet dye," in late use "scarlet color, scarlet garment."
So important was kermes (coccus) as a commercial source of scarlet dye that derivatives of the name for it have displaced the original word for "red" in many languages, such as Welsh coch (from Latin), Modern Greek kokkinos. Also compare Russian čcermnyj "purple-red," Old Church Slavonic čruminu. Compare also crimson (n.).
Kermes dyes have been found in burial wrappings in Anglo-Scandinavian York, but the use of kermes dyes seems to have been lost in Europe from the Dark Ages until early 15c. It fell out of use again with the introduction of cochineal (the word for which itself might be from coccus) from the New World.
Cloths dyed with kermes are of a deep red colour; and though much inferior in brilliancy to the scarlet cloths dyed with real Mexican cochineal, they retain the colour better and are less liable to stain. The tapestries of Brussels and other parts of Flanders, which have scarcely lost any thing of their original brilliancy, even after a lapse of 200 years, were all dyed with kermes. [W.T. Brande, "Dictionary of Science, Literature, & Art," London, 1842]