Word for Wednesday: Carnation

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Our Word for Wednesday theme for August is flowers

The word flower entered English around 1200 as ‘flour’ (with spelling variants including ‘flur’, ‘flor’, ‘floer’, ‘flor’, ‘floyer’, and ‘flowre’). It comes from the Old French ‘flor’, from the Latin ‘florem’. The word was used in reference to both blooms and grain until the late fourteenth century, after which the spellings ‘flower’ and ‘flour’ were used to differentiate between the two. 

So far we’ve looked at the words daisy and tulip—today’s word is carnation

Carnations – also called 'clove pink' – are have showy pink, white, or red flowers and grey-green leaves. They were known in ancient times for their fragrance.

There are two origin stories for the word carnation

One theory is that it’s a corruption of the word 'coronation' and a reference to the crown-like look of the flower’s toothed petals. 

Although carnations come in different colours, the other theory is that the word is named for the colour pink and derives from the Middle French word ‘carnation’ which means ‘pinkish skin complexion.’ The Middle French ‘carnation’ likely comes from the Italian ‘carnagione’ meaning ‘flesh colour’, which in turns comes from the Late Latin ‘carnationem’ meaning ‘fleshiness’. ‘Carnationem’ comes from the Latin ‘caro’ which means ‘flesh’ and is also the root of words like ‘carnage’, ‘carnal’, ‘carnivore’, and ‘carrion’.

19 Aug 2020
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