Friday, May 16, 2003

Etymology Today from M-W: vinaceous \vye-NAY-shuss\ of the color wine : dark red

The first recorded evidence of "vinaceous" in English dates from 1688, about the time of the accession of Mary II. If ever the queen used "vinaceous," she was probably in the confines of her landscaped garden, admiring the vinaceous shades of petals or looking indifferently at the vinaceous cap of a mushroom; since its beginning, "vinaceous" has flourished in the earthy lexicon of horticulture and mycology. It has also taken flight in the ornithological world as a descriptive word for the unique dark-red coloring of some birds, like the vinaceous amazon or vinaceous rosefinch. You probably won’t encounter these exotic birds while enjoying the spring weather in your neighborhood, but you might see someone tossing a vinaceous Frisbee or jogging by in a vinaceous T-shirt.

- Previous E.T.

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