Monday, August 17, 2015

Colorful words


     There are, of course, those common primary-color words, the red, green, and blue pixels of our TV screens, for example, which trick our brains into constructing beautiful full-color images.


     Then there are those vaguely-familiar, much more sophisticated words that are bandied about, I imagine, in clothing design studios, like taupe, fuchsia, and vermillion.


     And then there are some even more obscure color words that hardly anybody knows, such as:

     Smaragdine: emerald-colored

     Filemot: dead leaf-colored

     Porraceous: leek-colored

     Castaneous: chestnut-colored

     Ianthhine: violet

     Lateritious: brick-colored

     Melichrous: honey-colored

     Stramineous: straw-colored


     Some color words have evolved beyond their mere pigmentation.  Red, for example was born as the Latin ruber,  which inspired rubra  (red oak), which in turn inspired robor  (strength), leading to robust.  Rubric  was also a close cousin, which described the practice of marking instructions in liturgical texts in red. 


     (Incidentally, Colorado in Spanish means, simply, “the color red.”) 


     There are the emotional and ideological uses of color words, such as ”seeing red” or, “black-hearted” or “purple prose” or, these days, “going green.”


     And there are those of us who, encountering excess frustration or routine bureaucratic idiocy or intransigence, tend to resort to really  colorful language.



(Note: Some of the above facts were gleaned from Mental floss magazine.)




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