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vermilion / vermillion [n. ver-MIL-yun]
The color vermilion is bright red, also known as chinese red or
cinnabar. There is also the pigment vermilion, which is bright red
mercuric sulfide, also called cinnabar.
Another word for bright red color is vermeil, a word imported from Old
French that happens to also be a root of vermilion. That word came
out of Latin, from vermiculus (a little worm), the diminutive of
How did a little worm lead to redness? The worm in question was the
red larva of a kind of insect (Coccus ilicis) that was used to create
red dye. This insect, the kermes (oak tree) scale, passed its name
into Spanish as cremesin, which later passed into English as another
red color name, crimson.
The kermes oak is common in the hills of southern France:
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