1590s (adj.) "flesh-colored, carnation-colored, pale red, pink," from French incarnadin (16c.), from dialectal Italian incarnadino "flesh-color," from Late Latin incarnatio (see incarnation). The adjective now is archaic or obsolete. The word survives as a verb taken from the adjective, which properly would mean "to make flesh-colored," but means "make red" instead, the sense and the existence of the verb being entirely traceable to Lady Macbeth ("Macbeth" II ii.) in 1605. Its direct root might be the noun incarnadine "blood-red; flesh-color," though this is not attested until 1620s.
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