We have so many beautiful color names, that all describe beautiful shades–which surely existed forever, right? Maybe…but the words sure didn’t! So today, a few quick lessons on when some of those shade names joined the English language. =)

Indian Pigments (image by Dan Brady)

Cerulean is for the blue-green family, and dates from the 1660s. So we historical writers will want to use that one instead of…

Teal – not used for a color until 1923! Before that, “teal” just meant a small duck, whose head is said color. We took the color name from the duck name, not the other way around.

Fuchsia, which I can NEVER spell without the help of a dictionary, was the name of a plant in the 1700s, but didn’t get applied to the reddish-purple color in general until 1923.

And don’t think you can instead use magenta! Magenta was so-called in honor of a battle in a town called Magenta in Italy in 1860, where a rich dye was discovered soon after the fighting ended.

Turquoise – again, the stone has been known and named a goodly while–since the 1560s. But it wasn’t used to describe the color until 1853.

Lavender has the same story. The plant has been a word since the 1300s, but apparently people didn’t use it for the color until 1840.

Aubergine is an eggplant–the original word for it. The deep purple color we associate with eggplant was also first called aubergine (the first veggie called “eggplant” was apparently a white variety, oddly…). But keeping in this pattern, it wasn’t actually applied to the word until 1895.

Okay, that should do us for today. 😉 Have a colorful one!

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