reddish-purple aniline dye, 1859, from French mauve, from Old French mauve "mallow" (13c.), from Latin malva "mallow" (see mallow). The dye was so called from its resemblance to the purple markings of the petals of the mallow plant. Related: Mauvish.
late 14c., spelling alteration of late Old English malwe and directly from Latin malva "mallows" (source also of Modern French mauve, Spanish and Italian malva), a word from a Mediterranean substrate language. The same lost word apparently yielded Greek malakhe "mallow."
chemical base used in making colorful dyes, 1843, coined 1841 by German chemist Carl Julius Fritzsche and adopted by Hofmann, ultimately from Portuguese anil "the indigo shrub," from Arabic an-nil "the indigo," assimilated from al-nil (with Arabic definite article al-), from Persian nila, ultimately from Sanskrit nili "indigo," from nilah "dark blue."
With suffix -ine indicating "derived substance" (see -ine (1); also see -ine (2) for the later, more precise, use of the suffix in chemistry). Discovered in 1826 in indigo and at first called crystallin; it became commercially important in 1856 when mauve dye was made from it. As an adjective from 1860.