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Jun 27, 2016
This week’s theme
Color words derived from animals

This week’s words
vermeil
teal
ponceau
taupe
sepia

vermeil color
Vermeil color

vermeil wine cooler
A vermeil wine cooler made by Paul Storr in 1810, located in the Vermeil Room of the White House
Photo: White House

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Natural is good. Usually. Arsenic can be natural too. This appearance of natural becoming synonymous with goodness has resulted in some unfortunate side effects. Some food manufacturers use crushed insects to color the food (video, wiki), so that they can label their food as “all natural”.

Many animals have given their names to colors in the English language. This week we’ll review five such words. Other animals that make appearances this week are duck, peacock, mole, and cuttlefish.

vermeil

PRONUNCIATION:
(VUHR-mil, -mayl)

MEANING:
noun: 1. Vermilion color: bright orange-red. 2. Metal, such as silver, bronze, or copper that has been gilded.
adjective: Bright red in color.

ETYMOLOGY:
The word is coined after insects (of genus Kermes) that are used to make red dye. From Latin vermiculus (little worm, kermes), diminutive of vermis (worm). Ultimately from Indo-European root wer- (to turn or bend), which also gave us wring, weird, writhe, worth, revert, universe, conversazione, divers, malversation, prosaic, versal, verso, and wroth. Earliest documented use: 1400.

USAGE:
“What grabs your attention are the four big Chinese characters in vermeil red.”
Jurie Hwang; Keeping Hanbok Traditional But Trendy: McClatchy-Tribune Business News (Washington, DC); Jan 19, 2011.

See more usage examples of vermeil in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
There is no greater fallacy than the belief that aims and purposes are one thing, while methods and tactics are another. -Emma Goldman, social activist (27 Jun 1869-1940)

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