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.
updated on November 30, 2017