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kermes (n.)

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]
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coccus (n.)

1763 as an insect genus (including the cochineal bug and the kermes); 1883 as a type of bacterium; from Greek kokkos "grain, seed, berry" (see cocco-). Related: Coccoid.

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carmine (n.)
1712, "pure red dyestuff obtained from cochineal," from French carmin (12c.), from Medieval Latin carminium, from Arabic qirmiz "crimson" (see kermes, also compare crimson (n.)). Form influenced in Latin by minium "red lead, cinnabar," a word said to be of Iberian origin. As an adjective from 1737; as a color name from 1799. Related: Carminic.
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engrain (v.)
also ingrain, late 14c., originally "dye (a fabric) red with cochineal," from French phrase en graine, from graine "seed of a plant," also "cochineal" (the source of the dye was thought to be berries), thus "fast-dyed." See grain; also compare kermes. Later associated with grain in the sense of "the fiber of a thing." Used figuratively from 16c. Related: Engrained.
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vermeil (adj.)
"bright-red," late 14c., from Anglo-French and Old French vermail, vermeil "bright-red, scarlet, crimson" (11c. in Old French), from Late Latin vermiculus "a little worm," specifically, the cochineal insect from which crimson dyes were obtained (compare kermes), in classical Latin, "larva of an insect, grub, maggot," diminutive of vermis "worm" (from PIE root *wer- (2) "to turn, bend"). As a noun in English from 1590s.
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crimson (n.)

"highly chromatic deep red color," early 15c., cremesin, "cloth dyed deep purplish-red," also as an adjective, "of a crimson color," from Old Italian carmesi, cremesi (c. 1300), later carmisino, cremesinus, "crimson color; cochineal dye," from Arabic qirmizī (see kermes). For similar transfer of the dye word to generic use for "red," compare Old Church Slavonic čruminu, Russian čermnyj "red," from the same source. The French form in 15c.-16c. when the word entered English was cramoisin. "The word in Italian came from Arabic, and the word in all other European languages came from Italian via exports of silk cloths from Italy." ["English Words of Arabic Ancestry"]

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cochineal (n.)

"brilliant crimson dyestuff consisting of the dried bodies of a species of insect," 1580s, from French cochenille (16c.), probably from Spanish cochinilla, from a diminutive of Latin coccinus (adj.) "scarlet-colored," from coccum "berry (actually an insect) yielding scarlet dye" (see kermes). But some sources identify the Spanish source word as cochinilla "wood louse" (a diminutive form related to French cochon "pig").

The insect (Coccus Cacti) was so called from 1590s. It lives on the prickly pear cactus in Mexico and Central America and is a relative of the kermes and has similar, but more intense, dying qualities. Aztecs and other Mexican Indians used it as a dyestuff. It first is mentioned in Europe in 1523 in Spanish correspondence to Hernán Cortés in Mexico. Specimens were brought to Spain in the 1520s, and cloth merchants in Antwerp were buying cochineal in insect and powdered form in Spain by the 1540s. It soon superseded the use of kermes as a tinctorial substance. Other species of coccus are useless for dye and considered mere pests, such as the common mealy bug.

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grain (n.)
early 14c., "a small, hard seed," especially of one of the cereal plants, also as a collective singular, "seed of wheat and allied grasses used as food;" also "something resembling grain; a hard particle of other substances" (salt, sand, later gunpowder, etc.), from Old French grain, grein (12c.) "seed, grain; particle, drop; berry; grain as a unit of weight," from Latin granum "seed, a grain, small kernel," from PIE root *gre-no- "grain." From late 14c. as "a species of cereal plant." In the U.S., where corn has a specialized sense, it is the general word (used of wheat, rye, oats, barley, etc.).

Figuratively, "the smallest possible quantity," from late 14c. From early 15c. in English as the smallest unit of weight (originally the weight of a plump, dry grain of wheat or barley from the middle of the ear). From late 14c as "roughness of surface; a roughness as of grains." In reference to wood, "quality due to the character or arrangement of its fibers," 1560s; hence, against the grain (1650), a metaphor from carpentry: cutting across the fibers of the wood is more difficult than cutting along them.

Earliest sense of the word in English was "scarlet dye made from insects" (early 13c.), a sense also in the Old French collateral form graine; see kermes for the evolution of this sense, which was frequent in Middle English; also compare engrain. In Middle English grain also could mean "seed of flowers; pip of an apple, grape, etc.; a berry, legume, nut." Grain alcohol attested by 1854.
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*gene- 

*genə-, also *gen-, Proto-Indo-European root meaning "give birth, beget," with derivatives referring to procreation and familial and tribal groups.

It forms all or part of: Antigone; autogenous; benign; cognate; congener; congenial; congenital; connate; cosmogony; cryogenic; degenerate; engender; engine; epigone; eugenics; -gen; gendarme; gender; gene; genealogy; general; generate; generation; generic; generous; genesis; -genesis; genial; -genic; genital; genitive; genius; genocide; genotype; genre; gens; gent; genteel; gentile; gentle; gentry; genuine; genus; -geny; germ; german (adj.) "of the same parents or grandparents;" germane; germinal; germinate; germination; gingerly; gonad; gono-; gonorrhea; heterogeneous; homogeneous; homogenize; homogenous; impregnate; indigenous; ingenious; ingenuous; innate; jaunty; kermes; kin; kindergarten; kindred; king; kind (n.) "class, sort, variety;" kind (adj.) "friendly, deliberately doing good to others;" Kriss Kringle; malign; miscegenation; nada; naive; nascent; natal; Natalie; nation; native; nature; nee; neonate; Noel; oncogene; ontogeny; photogenic; phylogeny; pregnant (adj.1) "with child;" primogenitor; primogeniture; progenitor; progeny; puisne; puny; renaissance; theogony; wunderkind.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit janati "begets, bears," janah "offspring, child, person," janman- "birth, origin," jatah "born;" Avestan zizanenti "they bear;" Greek gignesthai "to become, happen," genos "race, kind," gonos "birth, offspring, stock;" Latin gignere "to beget," gnasci "to be born," genus (genitive generis) "race, stock, kind; family, birth, descent, origin," genius "procreative divinity, inborn tutelary spirit, innate quality," ingenium "inborn character," possibly germen "shoot, bud, embryo, germ;" Lithuanian gentis "kinsmen;" Gothic kuni "race;" Old English cennan "beget, create," gecynd "kind, nature, race;" Old High German kind "child;" Old Irish ro-genar "I was born;" Welsh geni "to be born;" Armenian cnanim "I bear, I am born."

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cocco- 
word-forming element meaning "berry, seed," or something shaped like them, from Latinized form of Greek kokkos "a grain, a seed," especially "kermes-berry, gall of the kermes oak" (actually an insect), which yields scarlet dye, a word of unknown origin, perhaps from a non-Greek source.
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