Words I Learned Today from the Phrontistery

Artist: Joseph Kosuth. Hirshhorn Museum, Washington, D.C.

I am free now to be academically indulgent and just because I found a whole bunch of words today related to colo(u)r. The Phrontistery [n. a thinking place; Gr phrontisterion from phrontistes a thinker, from phroneein to think] is a veritable shrine to lexical intrepidity, claiming the International House of Logorrhea, a dictionary of obscure words, the Compendium of Lost Words, and "many other glossaries, word lists, essays". In short, loads of etymological related goodness. 

One treat is a list of 168 of the most antiquated, recherché, and useful terms describing color that stretches way beyond that of your more common, pedestrian rainbows. Selected favs:

Amaranthine : a dark reddish purple color; eternal, infinite; of or related to the amaranth plant; of an imaginary flower that never fades

Eau-de-nil : a pale yellowish green color (like the Nile, presumably)

Ferruginous : rust colored; containing iron; brown approaching yellow

Gamboge : a strong yellow color; partially transparent dark mustard yellow pigment

Greige : hilariously, it's a color "between gray and beige, closely akin to the [even more blandly, accurately named] taupe"

Lurid : doesn't just mean "unnaturally or unpleasantly vivid in color" but especially when applied to red-yellow and yellow-brown mixtures (which is why an alternate meaning of lurid is "shining with an unnatural red glow as of fire seen through smoke; 'a lurid sunset'; "lurid flames'")

Umber : brownish red; obtained from natural clays variously colored by the oxides of iron and manganese

Rhodopsin : "visual purple" further defined as "a red photopigment in the retinal rods of vertebrates"

Vermeil : bright scarlet red or vermillion color; gilded silver

Viridian : chrome green; a bluish green pigment made from a foam of chromic oxide

I'm sure there will be a mindmap accompanying this post someday, since vocabulary building is one of my favorite applications of mindmaps. Watch for it maybehaps. [P.S. -a bonus, very thorough etymology dictionary. Enjoy seeing how mindblowingly embedded language is in itself. ]

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